Volume 22, Number 05 | The Newspaper of Lower Manhattan | June 19 - 25, 2009
First and goal for school space in Sports Museum
By Julie Shapiro
The Sports Museum of America’s loss is Lower Manhattan families’ gain.
After the museum at 26 Broadway went bankrupt and closed earlier this year, the Dept. of Education is stepping in to convert the space into school seats. The city has not signed the lease yet, but “We’re very close to an agreement,” D.O.E. spokesperson Will Havemann said Wednesday. Havemann would not confirm any details about the space or the lease terms, citing the negotiations.
The Sports Museum occupied at least 45,000 square feet in 26 Broadway. That space will open up seats for a total of 1,000 students, said Paul Goldstein, director of Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver’s district office. He said it was pretty much a done deal. It is unclear when the seats will be ready.
The D.O.E. is already building school seats in the lower Broadway office building for the Urban Assembly School of Business for Young Women, a high school that is moving in this fall. As part of that project, the D.O.E. had long said that an additional 250 seats in 26 Broadway would be available to the community. Now, with the city’s impending acquisition of the Sports Museum space, the 250 extra seats will rise to 1,000 seats, Goldstein said.
The new Sports Museum space could become a home for the Greenwich Village Middle School, which needs to move from its current elementary school building because it is overcrowded. The city briefly mulled moving G.V.M.S. temporarily to P.S./I.S. 276, the new Battery Park City school, but it now appears more likely that G.V.M.S. will move to 26 Broadway instead, Goldstein said.
Havemann confirmed the possibility of G.V.M.S. moving to 26 Broadway and said he would have more information about the use of the new space by the end of the summer. The Greenwich Village school needs to move in fall 2010.
A move to the Financial District would likely anger Village parents who have also been fighting for school space, and had hoped to find a spot closer to home for the middle school, which presumably would change its name.
The principal of G.V.M.S. did not return calls for comment.
The city previously floated moving another middle school, I.S. 89, from Battery Park City to 26 Broadway, but local parents protested back then that the high-security Financial District was not a good place for a school.
If the Greenwich Village school makes a permanent home at 26 Broadway, there will still be at least 400 seats available in the building that have not yet been spoken for, Goldstein said. They could be elementary, middle or high school seats, he told Community Board 1’s Youth and Education Committee Tuesday night, and the committee members appeared to favor middle school seats.
While the committee members, all local parents, appeared grateful that new school seats were on the way, they were concerned that the city often forgets about amenities like gyms and auditoriums when they carve classrooms out of office buildings. Several Downtown high schools in office buildings have no gyms.
“It’s not enough to have the seats,” said Liat Silberman, a Youth Committee member. “There has to be the structure around the seats.”
“I don’t think it’s a suitable space,” added Ann DeFalco, co-chairperson of the committee.
Goldstein said he had raised the same concerns with the Dept. of Education, and he thinks it would be hard to build large gathering spaces into 26 Broadway. He said his office would continue fighting for the common spaces, but he did not think it wise to turn down classroom seats the city wants to build.