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Sunset Park castle-to-school conversion will retain the building’s Romanesque charm

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They’re ditching the neighboring horse stables, though

Wikimedia Commons/Beyond My Ken

The city will not be razing Sunset Park’s decrepit Romanesque Revival castle to make way for a grade school after all, Brooklyn Daily reports. Instead, they’ll preserve much of the building’s existing facade, while gutting the rest to make way for said grade school. The building, at 4302 Fourth Avenue, is a New York City landmark and on the National Register of Historic Places.

Back in 2015, developer Yosef Streicher picked up the disintegrating castle for $6 million with plans to fund a $5 million dollar rehab to turn the place into a community center and café. Streicher’s wouldn’t have been the first attempt to transform the landmarked former police station into a neighborhood institution—various community organizations had tried before, and ultimately like Streicher, failed.

Last June, the Department of Education made a play for the property, with an eye toward turning it into a much-needed 300-seat public school for Sunset Park. The city reached an agreement with Streicher to hand off the building, and announced they’d either be demolishing the decrepit landmark or renovating it. Reactions, as always, were split.

The School Construction Authority couldn’t actually move forward with any plan, though, until they got approval from the State Historic Preservation Office—and now, after considering the options, the parties have reached an agreement. The plan: Save and spruce up most of the existing facade, but raze the neighboring horse stable. As a School Construction Authority spokesperson told Brooklyn Daily, the extra space gained by scrapping the stables was too good to pass up.

“At least to me, the stable is the least interesting part of the facade,” Jeremy Laufer, district manager of Community Board 7, told the paper. “If we are able to preserve the rest of it and at the same time gain a modern school—I think that is a good compromise.”

Now that they’ve got a plan and the State Historic Preservation Office’s blessing, School Construction Authority has to get final approval from City Council in July, at which point the city will go ahead and purchase the property from Streicher. After that, they’ll spend a year designing plans for the revamped building, to be followed by up to three years of construction.