New public school will be among first built since 1970s without City funding; school construction program amended to increase flexibility. The City Council’s Land Use Committee voted yes on two applications that would enable private development of a 520-seat City middle school on the Upper East Side at no cost to the City.
In 1966, the City created the New York City Educational Construction Fund, a public benefit corporation, to allow the leasing of City property to private developers who would construct a new school and use the balance of the site for a private development. As part of this program, a separate zoning amendment passed allowing ECF projects to obtain a special permit to transfer unused floor area to the private development from the school lot and obtain height and setback waivers to afford needed flexibility. In the 1970s, ECF developed over 17,000 school seats at no capital cost to the City along with 4,500 residential units and 1.2 million sq.ft. of office space.
In December 2005, ECF applied along with the private developer, 1765 First Associates, LLP, to construct a middle school adjacent to a new 34-story, mixed use development with 218,970 sq.ft. of residential space and 3,684 sq.ft. retail space on a City-owned parcel at East 91st and 92nd Streets at First Avenue. The mixed-use development, located entirely within a C2-8 zoning, would front First Avenue. The new school would extend the full block width between East 91st Street and East 92nd and would be developed primarily on a residentially- zoned portion of the site (R8B) that currently contains a vacant school.
The project called for a text change to the ECF zoning provision to permit rear yard waivers. This would allow the new school to operate as one building stretching from East 91st to East 92nd rather than limiting it to two separate buildings with two street entrances.
ECF asked for more flexibility in the transfer of unused floor area. It sought permission to transfer floor area from lots adjacent to the project that were not owned by the City by completing a lot merger and a shared ownership agreement, which would ultimately enable the developer to obtain more transferable development rights. Currently, the ECF text requires that ECF be the exclusive owner of the lot transferring its unused development rights. If approved, the transfer provision will only apply to one site.
At the Council’s June 1st Subcommittee meeting on Zoning and Franchises, Robert Cook, attorney for ECF, explained that the opportunities created by the text changes would facilitate increased private development of public schools. Council Member Jessica Lappin, the district representative, inquired about the cost to construct solely the school portion; ECF estimated it as $40 million.
The Subcommittee voted unanimously to approve the text amendment and the special permit. The full Council is scheduled to vote on the matter on June 13, 2006.
Lead Agency: ECF,Neg.Dec.
Comm.Bd.: MN 8, App’d, 33-0-0
Boro. President: App’d
CPC: App’d, 8-0-1
CPC: ECF/Middle School/Mixed Use Development (C 060255 ZSM – special permit, yard, height, setback); (N 060254 ZRY – text amendment) (May 10, 2006). CITYADMIN