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Harlem's P.S. 186 reveals its stunning transformation into affordable housing

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Before and after photos capture the restoration of this Italian Renaissance-style structure

The rehabilitated P.S. 186/Boys & Girls Club of Harlem building. All photos courtesy Dattner Architects and David Sundberg /Esto

The transformation of Hamilton Heights’s crumbling P.S. 186 structure into a charming apartment building for low and middle-income New Yorkers, and a new Boys and Girls Club of Harlem was officially unveiled Thursday morning. While the Boys and Girls club will have its entrance on 145th Street, residents will access the building on West 146th Street. The five-story building contains a total of 79 apartments that come in studios, one-bedrooms, and two-bedrooms.

The affordable housing lottery for the units kicked off in February this year, and about 75 percent of the apartments are now rented. They’re open to individuals making between $24,130 and $95,250 per year and for three-people households making between $31,008 and $122,400.

The project was developed by Monadnock Construction (think Carmel Place) along with Alembic and was created as part of Mayor Bill de Blasio’s Housing New York plan to create and preserve 200,000 units of affordable housing. 53,000 new affordable homes have been created since de Blasio took office.

Dattner Architects was brought on to restore the Italian Renaissance-style building. Dattner chose to retain a lot of the original details from the building including the exterior terra cotta ornaments, arched openings, columns, and some of the apartments here now come with 14-foot-tall ceilings. The Boys and Girls Club here, which faces out on West 145th Street, spans 11,000-square-feet, and is located on the ground floor.

"Bringing families and kids back to this beautiful and historic school building is an amazing example of the work we are doing to re-energizing local communities, build affordable homes, and keep our children in safe and exceptional learning environments," de Blasio said in a statement.

The massive H-shaped building opened its doors in 1903, and operated as an elementary school for 72 years thereafter. Just some of the notable students who attended this school include Harry Belafonte and Arthur Mitchell, the latter of whom created the Dance Theater of Harlem. By the early 1970s, the building had gone into disrepair, and in 1975, the city decided the conditions there were too dangerous to continue operations, and the building was abandoned that year.

After sitting vacant for decades, the de Blasio administration decided that the site was a prime location for adaptive reuse. The restoration cost $48.6 million and was largely funded by the city’s Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD). With the unveiling on Thursday we now have several new images of the newly restored building, but before you scroll down and check those out, take a look at what Dattner Architects and Monadnock were working with before the transformation got underway.

And now as promised are more shots of the restored building.