Historic headquarters for Sunset Park police precinct built into new school
Original had stables
A new school, designated as P.S. 557, is under construction at the site of the old 68th Precinct stationhouse on the southeast corner of Fourth Avenue and 43rd Street in Sunset Park. What’s unusual about the new building is that it incorporates the existing front and side façade of the historic three-story precinct into the new three- to five-story school.
The school will serve 332 students from pre-kindergarten to fifth grade. It will include a gymnasium, rooftop playground, classrooms, music and reading resource rooms, and a combined cafeteria and auditorium.
The stationhouse was built in 1886 for the Brooklyn City Police Force’s 18th Precinct, at a time when the area was considered a part of Bay Ridge. It had an adjacent two-story stable with space for a horse-drawn police wagon on the first floor and a hayloft on the second. The precinct had several different designations after consolidation with New York City, but became the NYPD’s 68th Precinct in 1928.
After the NYPD left the building in 1970, it deteriorated due to crime, graffiti and vandalism until it was virtually unusable. Money from a state Environmental Quality bond in 1986 was used for roof repair. Otherwise, “the place is a hot mess, to put it mildly,” the Eagle’s Lore Croghan wrote in 2016.
Retired NYPD Det. Peter Killen, a past president of the Bay Ridge Community Council, started his career as a patrolman at the old 68th Precinct from 1968-70 and moved to the new stationhouse at 333 65th St. when it opened. He said the old building had a coal-fired furnace and a siren system on the roof that was tested at noon each day.
The old castle-like building on Fourth Avenue and 43rd Street was designated a New York City landmark in 1983 and is also listed in the State and National Registers of Historic Places. It was designed by architect George Ingram in the Romanesque Revival style, and was a then-modern replacement for a stationhouse on Third Avenue and 37th Street, according to historians.
Before the current renovation, the building had a history of development plans that fell through. Brooklyn landlord and developer Yosef Streicher bought the precinct building in 2016 from the Brooklyn Chinese American Association for $6 million and reportedly planned a $5 million restoration, which never occurred. The Chinese-American Association, in turn, bought it from the Sunset Park School of Music in 1999.
Streicher later sold it to the School Construction Authority, which manages the design, construction and renovation of NYC school buildings.
—Additional reporting by Raanan Geberer.
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