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TriBeCa students rally to save school from conversion to luxury amenities, including gym

In 2014, PS 150 was the only school in the city to be designated a Blue Ribbon School by the U.S. Department of Education.

PS 150 - Tribeca Learning Center supporters, including

PS 150 - Tribeca Learning Center supporters, including PTA President Anshal Purohit, center, protest the closing of the Greenwich Street school on Wednesday. Photo Credit: Jeff Bachner

Students of PS 150 – Tribeca Learning Center stood on the steps of their beloved school on Tuesday chanting, "Save our school! SOS!"

The award-winning institution on Greenwich Street received an eviction notice a month ago from the building’s landlords, who want to build luxury amenities in its place, according to city officials and parents.

Buxton Midyett, a parent and member of the School Leadership Team, described the notice as a tragedy.

"We consistently score top in our district. It would be a loss for the community, and it puzzles me why the developers are evicting us,” said Midyett. “The only ones truly suffering here are the children.”

The school’s lease ended in August, however the landlords extended it for a year, making the 2018-2019 school year the last hurrah for students.

The landlords, Vornado Realty and Stellar Management, have refused to negotiate with the city, which has been trying to keep the school at its current location, according to officials.

Instead, the companies are looking to install amenities such as an exercise studio and high-end retail outlets, elected officials and parents said.

"There's gyms on almost every block. Do we really need another?” Midyett said. “I don’t think they understand the demographic of the community that is here; having this school is a good fortune for the community.”

The owners of the building, however, said "ample time" to find a new space had been provided, after an agreement forged in 2015.

A spokesperson for the owners – ownership is 50.1 percent Vornado and 49.9 percent Stellar – explained in an email that both companies sat down with NYC's Department of Education and School Construction Authority in 2015, and a three-year lease extension was agreed upon.

The extension "provided the school and all involved parties ample time to create a relocation plan favorable to the P.S. 150 students and staff. At that time we clearly and transparently confirmed that the lease would not be renewed and together we documented that understanding in writing," the spokesperon said, adding that, despite the lease expiring in August, the DOE and SCA have been granted an additional year.

Co-vice president of the Parent Teacher Association Anshal Purohit said the school is the only one in Manhattan that has one class per grade.

“There’s 187 kids that attend this top-performing school, from preschool to fifth grade,” Purohit added. “This rally was the last thing we wanted to do, but we’re here to get Vornado and Stellar to open their eyes that these are children.”

City Councilwoman Margaret Chin, State Sen. Brian Kavanagh and Assemblywoman Deborah Glick rallied along with the students and parents Tuesday afternoon.

“We’re here as a community to save this school,” Chin said. “We need to come up with a long- and short-term resolution.”

Glick vowed to continue fighting until the school is kept where it belongs – in TriBeCa.

"Education is essential when it comes to choosing where to live,” Glick said. “Developers should see schools are what makes a selling point, instead of selling them out.”

In 2014, PS 150 was the only school in the city to be designated a Blue Ribbon School by the U.S. Department of Education.


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