Community Board 10 approves new school for Bay Ridge Prep
But panel balks at height of new building
After months of meetings and delicate negotiations, Community Board 10 has voted to recommend that the city approve ambitious plans by a Bay Ridge private school to build a new facility on 89th Street.
Board 10’s vote, which took place at its monthly meeting on Oct. 17, allowed Bay Ridge Prep to clear a significant hurdle in its quest to construct a new Upper School for high school-aged students at 429 89th St. in Bay Ridge.
But while Board 10 voted to approve the idea of a new school at the 89th Street site, it turned down an important part of the proposal: the plan to have the building stand six stories tall. The board voted to recommend that the city not approve a six-story building and instead order Bay Ridge Prep to construct a smaller structure.
Bay Ridge Prep needs a special permit to construct the Upper School because the new building is larger in size and scope than what would be permitted under current zoning laws.
Bay Ridge Prep will now take its case for a special permit to the city’s Board of Standards and Appeals (BSA).
“We are pleased the full community board recommended that we receive the special permit required to build on the proposed site,” head of school Dr. Charles Fasano said in a statement. “We look forward to meeting next with the Board of Standards and Appeals to gain full approval of the project, including the proposed height of the building.”
Bay Ridge Prep, which has a Lower School for elementary grades as well as an Upper School, currently uses space in two buildings. Its Lower School is in a building Bay Ridge Prep purchased from the Union Church of Bay Ridge at 8101 Ridge Blvd. The Upper School is housed at 7420 Fourth Ave., a building owned by the Lutheran Church of the Good Shepherd.
If the BSA gives its approval, Bay Ridge Prep will begin construction. The new facility is scheduled to open in September of 2018.
Bay Ridge Prep plans to close its Upper School location on Fourth Avenue. The Lower School will remain at Ridge Boulevard.
“The construction of the building is a net positive for the community,” school officials said in a statement.
Over a series of meetings with Board 10’s Zoning and Land Use Committee that took place prior to the Oct. 17 board meeting, Bay Ridge Prep hammered out differences with the committee, including concerns over increased traffic on 89th Street once the building is open.
“The block that the new building will be constructed on is not residential and currently occupied by automotive shops. The school will replace one of these shops, reducing a constant flow of traffic and cars parked on the sidewalks. Finally, the school facility will be used primarily by high school-aged students who, for the most part, take mass transit to and from school rather than [be] driven by parents,” school officials said in a statement.
Bay Ridge Prep agreed with the committee that the façade of the building could be made more appealing. Several proposals have been made by the school, including one that would allow local artists to use the wall to draw attractive murals.
Some differences between Bay Ridge Prep and Board 10 could not be bridged, however.
Board members suggested that Bay Ridge Prep could reduce the structure’s height by 12 feet if it removed plans for an indoor pool at the facility.
Bay Ridge Prep refused to scrap the pool plans.
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