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City Wants to Demolish UWS Schools to Build Luxury Towers

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Over the long weekend, the West Side Rag broke some surprising news: the city is considering plans to tear down three schools on the Upper East and Upper West Sides and replace them with luxury apartment towers. What's even more shocking is that the city has been seeking plans since November, and parents with children in the schools were just recently notified. The schools in question are PS 199 at 270 West 70th Street, PS 191 at 210 West 61st Street, and the School of Cooperative Technical Education at 321 East 96th Street. PS 199 has 850 students, PS 191 has 550, and unsurprisingly, parents are pretty pissed about the plans. A rep from the DOE said that the city will only move forward with plans if they find something worthwhile. DNAinfo reports that a dozen developers have expressed interest.

If the city decides to move forward with this plan, demolition and construction could start as soon as 2015. The schools would be relocated, and the Request for Expressions of Interest says that developers should consider relocation sites in their proposals. Developers are allowed to submit plans for one site or all three, and new schools would be built within the towers.

The RFEI makes clear that the developers would encounter opposition, especially with PS 199, which was designed and built by architect Edward Durell Stone. Additionally, the RFEI says that a full ULURP would not be necessary for the city to lease the land to the developer: "This is an important element of the ECF program which significantly benefits developers as it makes an 'As-of-right' project feasible. Developers may pursue a Special Permit option at each site which would require public review." However, DNAinfo reports that a DOE rep said that a full public review process would take place.

The size of the towers would vary, but at PS 191, the "special permit" option would allow for a tower with a total floor area of 342,000-square-feet. At PS 199, a building could reach nearly 650,000-square-feet. The East 96th Street site would allow for the largest new building, with a possible floor area of 956,000-square-feet. If the city chooses a developer, the public review process will begin in April or May.
· Exclusive: The City Is Considering Plans to Demolish PS 199 and PS 191 (Updated With City Response) [West Side Rag]
· Official RFEI [PDF]
· City Plans to Tear Down Two Upper West Side Schools for High-Rises [DNAinfo]