Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Bill De Blasio Courtyard Caper Delayed

Last night, at the Hannah Senesh Day School
Lobbyist and Legal Council for Hannah Senesh: Ken Fisher
Tom Gray, representing Councilman Bill de Blasio
Amy Glosser, Vice -Chair, Hannah Senesh Board Of Directors
Hannah Senesh's Architect Larry Horowitz
Hannah Senesh building with new addition as seen from First Place

Of course, Councilman Bill De Blasio was absent from last night's meeting at Hannah Senesh Day School to discuss the expansion of the private school into a city owned courtyard in Carroll Gardens. De Blasio had intended to introduce a bill on December 9th that would compromised a 150-year-old law protecting our Carroll Gardens courtyards, by exempting the school's courtyard at the corner of Smith Street and First Place. 

However, last night the community was told that De Blasio will not be introducing his bill at this City Council session. (I suppose the community's vocal opposition may have helped to change his mind.) Instead, Councilman-elect Brad Lander made an announcement that early next year, we can expect Hannah Senesh School to apply for a zoning variance and an amendment to the Administrative Code which will allow a transfer of city property to the school. Should their application meet with approval and proceed through the Uniform Land Use Review Procedure (U.L.U.R.P.,) Carroll Gardens will have to fight to keep its historical integrity and unique character intact. 

Pardon me for asking, but I can't help wondering why the Board of Directors of Hannah Senesh would spend several years planning and millions of dollars buying and constructing a facility which did not meet their needs and which they outgrew in less than a year.

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Brooks of Sheffield said...

Hannah Senesh is being incredibly short sighted on this. They're going to do themselves a world of hurt in terms of their image in the community if they pursue this. And you're right, Katia, they'll outgrow is in a year. The need for a new extension APART from the Smith Street building seems obvious. The desire for the lot next door is just laziness on their part.

And did you notice: Bill DeBlasio acts; Brad Lander speaks. It's a nice ventriloquist-dummy act.

Anonymous said...

This floor plan boggles me. If they really are in need of expansion, it looks like there's two available areas on the second floor roof that can be built out. I'm assuming these spaces are recreational space, considering the fencing around it. So, with recreational space already available at Carroll Park across the street, and in their indoor gymnasium, utilizing those open spots would make so much more sense than building out for a hallway and block of classrooms, thus altering (or can i say butchering?!) the look and feel of our neighborhood.

Kelly said...

Here is a little known fact about the building.
When the school bought the building from developer Bill Stein ( infamous for the 360 Smith Street development next door), the transaction specified that the Floor Area Ratio (FAR) for that building would be transferred to Stein's development.

So, in effect, the Board of Directors of Hannah Senesh bought a building that offered no possibility of expansion.

Anonymous said...

Is the property changing hands on Dec. 11th...anyway? and for $1? What had the outgoing/incoming Councilman-team stated about the cost/benefit to the community for the $1 sale. Overall, this was a very well produced 'punt' - but what about the deed and what process WILL happen this year across the next week or two? Specifically, is "the Sale" off the calendar or still on?

Anonymous said...

Carroll Gardens will be watching how Brad "I'm the only candidate with kids in public school" Lander handles this since he will play an instrumental role in the ULURP.
Is my understanding correct in that Hannah Senesh School wants the additional space for a theatre and computer room (which the school already has)? As a public school parent this angers me especially with yet another round of budget cuts looming.
Hannah Senesh should look for another space if they want to accommodate more students and sell the building back to the City for a "token sum" to use as a public middle school which our district could certainly use.

Anonymous said...


If you view the short video feed that Katia supplied you'll see that Brad kept saying that Bill wouldn't bring this up for the next 2 weeks. He kept saying TWO weeks. He didn't say January - he siad Bill will hold off for 2 weeks.

Look Out - two weeks AFTER that statement is still December and Billy De Kid is STILL in office.

Don't be surprised if it gets pushed before years' end.