A Brooklyn school has taught some developers a lesson in real estate, beating out more than a dozen competitors for a prized piece of land in central Clinton Hill that could have supported at least six floors of luxury housing.
“Everyone [the school] was competing with was looking to put up some kind of tower,” said Michael Annunziata, the broker at Massey Knakal Realty Services who arranged the $960,000 deal.
Instead, thanks to the savvy educators, Classon Avenue and Monroe Street will get a new private school for kids aged pre-school through fifth grade.
A school representative wouldn’t reveal the secret ingredient in her potent, developer-vanquishing recipe.
“I don’t know [how we did it],” said Aeena Frempong, the educational director of the Phyls Academy in East Flatbush. “I didn’t know [we had so many competitors]. They called us, we were interested, and everything checked out. It really wasn’t that complicated.”
She’s clearly keeping her cards close to her chest. But one thing’s for sure: the Academy won’t be building some sort of school/luxury condo hybrid to take advantage of its 9,500 buildable square feet. She swears.
“There won’t be a tower going up, no,” said Frempong, who has been approached by developers asking to build condos atop the school. “I don’t think anyone will be disappointed by that.”
She’s probably right.
“Wow, this is wonderful,” said Sharon Barnes, co-chair of the Landmarks Preservation Committee for the Society for Clinton Hill.
“For a community to work, you need more than just houses — you needs schools, stores, open space,” added Barnes. “We are very short on school choices to keep young families here.”
Her neighbor, Nancy Bruni, whose son attends fourth grade at PS 11, agreed.
“Although PS 11 is on the up-and-up, a lot of parents are looking for alternatives,” said Bruni. “Especially, a viable pre-K-to-fifth-grade program.”
The Academy plans to tear down the current one-story warehouse, which was a distribution center for a rag-and-garment business, and build a school capable of housing about 500 students. The architects have yet to finalize the design of the facility, which should be open for the 2008 school year.
“We’re [planning] a center that will have a playground facility, possibly on the roof, a full kitchen, classrooms catering toward children of a very young age, and a computer lab,” said Frempong.
This will be the Phyl’s Academy’s fourth school. The original Academy, now in its 27th year, was named for founder Phyllis Frempong-Boadu, and is in East Flatbush. The other two are in Florida, where some of the Frempong family relocated. The East Flatbush institution operates a day care, elementary school, after-school care and summer camp. Tuition runs about $10,000 a year.
It’s unclear how much the new Academy on Classon Avenue will charge, although chances are it will be a bit pricier than its sister school to the south, given the community’s relative wealth.
But we do have one suggestion. How about a scholarship funded using the tuition for an adult education class: “How to beat developers at their own game.”
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