Essentially, the Department of Education would have emerged from the process with three new developer-funded school buildings, along with $325 million in rent over the course of the 75-year lease. For its part, the developer would be allowed to build a magnificent, Skidmore, Owings & Merrill–designed skyscraper in what was then a booming residential real estate market. Even better, the state would issue $130 million in tax-free bonds to help finance the schools’ construction.
At first, construction moved forward according to plan. In August 2008, retail brokerage Robert K. Futterman & Associates announced that Whole Foods would anchor the project’s retail, opening an outlet there in 2012. By the end of 2008, World-Wide had finished construction of the temporary 63rd Street school for P.S. 59, the city’s first green school building. Industry trade New York Construction reported in October 2008 that construction on the new schools at the development site was to begin that fall. Nearly a year later, construction has yet to begin.
“The temporary site of PS 59 has opened and the school relocated; the rest of the timeline is being finalized,” Mr. Silberstein wrote.
The project’s future remains somewhat murky, but Education Fund executive director Jamie Smarr expressed confidence that the state would still issue bonds to finance construction, and the project would still be completed largely as planned. “The developer is still very much involved as this is [a] public-private venture,” Mr. Smarr said in an email.
“We are moving forward with the planning of this project and, other than some redesign, it remains the same as previously announced.”