The Madding Crowd

Another office building conversion to residential use will soon bring an additional 345 apartments to the Financial District. The building at Two Washington Street (also known as 17 Battery Place North) will soon undergo a partial reconfiguration into dwellings, its owner, the Moinian Group, has announced.

The remainder of the structure, located between Battery Place and Morris Street, will continue to house an eclectic mix of non-residential uses, such as Nyack College, the Exponents drug and alcohol treatment center, and a Department of Education pre-kindergarten center.

The new residential complex will be located just steps from a new public school, to be sited at the corner of Trinity Place and Edgar Street, which will host grades kindergarten through eight. This may prove a potent lure for prospective tenants with small children. But the Trinity Place public school is now years behind schedule, with its most recent opening date slated for 2022.

Moreover, the new school on Trinity Place is being built into the base on another new residential tower — this one with 35 floors of apartments. If a significant portion of the homes in the Washington Street and Trinity Place buildings come to house families with school-age children (and Lower Manhattan’s recent history appears to indicate that they will), then just these two buildings will use up more than half of the 476 seats the new school is slated to offer.

This development comes against the backdrop of frenetic real estate development and a skyrocketing local population, both of which strain existing school infrastructure.

Between the years 2000 and 2010, the population of school-age children in the Financial District (a neighborhood that currently has no zoned elementary school) swelled by 246 percent. Between 2010 and 2016, more than 6,000 additional new residential units were added to Lower Manhattan, increasing the area’s population by more than 12,000 residents. This tally is poised to jump again, as 4,000-plus more new apartments (currently in the development pipeline) come online in the new few years, bringing with them another 12,000 residents.

In this context, Community Board 1 has requested that the City’s Department of Education commit to building an additional 500 seats of school capacity in Lower Manhattan, in addition to the Trinity Place school, which is currently under construction. This request has thus far been answered with silence.
Matthew Fenton

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