Flatbush Community Investment Adds Affordable Housing, Educational and Vocational Training Center

The vacant lot at 2286 Church Street in Flatbush, Brooklyn. Formerly the site of PS 90, but will soon be the location of new affordable housing. Image Credit: Google Maps

The development is on the site of a former landmark. On October 9, 2020, Mayor Bill de Blasio and Council Member Mathieu Eugene announced plans to develop affordable housing in Flatbush, Brooklyn to add approximately 130 affordable apartments. This new site would be located at 2286 Church Avenue and is the site of former Public School 90.

Public School 90 was a 29,000 square foot development site constructed between 1878-1894 that was demolished in 2015 because of hazardous structural conditions. Originally, the school was named District School #1 and is a descendent of the first Flatbush school which is believed to be the first school established in Long Island by the Dutch settlers as early as 1659. The architecture of the school was designed by John Culyer, who also designed the Flatbush Town Hall. The building was permanently sealed around 2000, and in 2008 Public School 90 received landmark designation. At the time of its designation, the building had been vacant for many years and was in poor condition. A nonprofit organization was supposed to rehabilitate and occupy the building, but efforts to find another use for the building were unsuccessful. In September 2015 the Department of Buildings issued an Emergency Declaration ordering the building to be demolished due to public safety concerns. Currently, the City is launching a Request for Qualifications to develop the affordable housing units and educational and vocational training center for young Brooklynites. The Department of Housing Preservation and Development will release the Request for Qualifications later this year, then release the Request for Proposals to the qualified responded of the Request for Qualifications.

While the site is primarily known for originally housing a historic late 19th-century school building, the site also has another history – archaeological expeditions of the site uncovered a small number of human remains. At the time of the excavation, the remains were transferred to the Reformed Dutch Church of Flatbush for reinternment and the remains may be associated with a historical burial ground for people of African ancestry. In 2019, the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission and the Economic Development Corporation created a task force to identify any potential descended communities of colonial enslaved individuals and the freed Africans of early Flatbush. The task force also is tasked with establishing a procedure for handling any additional remains if discovered and discussing a potential memorialization of the site. This task force will work simultaneously with the Request for Qualifications process.

James Patchell, President and CEO of New York City Economic Development Corporation, said about Public School 90 “local leaders have advocated for this underused property to better serve the Flatbush community, with affordable housing and educational space.” Speaking about the project, Mayor de Blasio said: “Today’s announcement demonstrates our commitment to inclusive, equitable housing development. With 130 affordable apartments and educational and vocational training facilities, this project will restore this historic site as a community anchor for Flatbush and the entire borough.”

A public hearing will be held by Community Board 14 in December to discuss the project with the Flatbush community.

By: Lynsey Smith (Lynsey is the CityLaw intern and a New York Law School student, Class of 2022.)


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