City's Budget Crisis Threatens PS 150's Promised Move to New Building

A school construction official says the shell of the school building at 42 Trinity Place, the landmark Robert and Anne Dickey House and internally connected eight-story, is ready for the city's go-ahead to be fitted out. Photo: Carl Glassman/Tribeca Trib 

Jun. 11, 2020

P.S. 150’s scheduled move in 2022 to a yet-to-be-built school on Trinity Place will be “very difficult,” a School Construction Authority official said on Tuesday. 

It took the intervention of Mayor de Blasio to save the school from being evicted this school year, from its home in Tribeca’s Independence Plaza. The school community had been slated by the city to co-locate in the Peck Slip School building. But an agreement with the landlord, Vornado Realty Trust, gave the school an extra two years, enough time it appeared for the new building at 42 Trinity Place to be ready. 

Now, a three month construction delay due to the pandemic, plus the city’s massive budget shortfall is putting the planned move in limbo, said Michael Mirisola, the School Construction Authority’s (SCA) director of external affairs.

“The stock answer that I give everyone else is that we anticipate making all of our completion dates,” Mirisola told a remote meeting on Tuesday of Community Board 1’s Youth and Education Committee. “But frankly, on this one, it’s going to be a tough road. This will be very difficult unless we get the green light almost immediately.” 

The SCA is “on hold” for almost all of its work, including projects set to be completed by the coming school year, Mirisola said. And his agency has yet to get answers from City Hall or the city’s Office of Management and Budget on when—or if— projects already funded can still go forward.

“We don’t know what’s left of the five-year capital plan,” Mirisola said. “We don’t know what is going to happen with anything at this point. This is unchartered waters.” 

The school will occupy the 206-year-old Robert and Anne Dickey House, a newly restored landmark that connects internally with an eight-story school building next door and serves as the base of a new, 500-foot-high residential tower. Mirisola said the construction contract has been awarded and the building can now be fitted out for the 476-seat school. 

“The shell is ready, the landlord is ready to accept us, the job has been bid, we have a contractor selected,” Mirisola said. “We could award the contract tomorrow if [the administration] said yes.”

P.S. 150 principal Jenny Bonnet did not respond to a request for comment. Lisa Midyette, a P.S. 150 parent, said at the meeting that the principal has yet to inform the parent body about the situation “because it is not a done deal that there is a delay, so she is waiting on additional information.” 

In the meantime, Mirisola said, a special arrangement might still be worked out with the contractor that would allow the school to open on time. “If we got a green light we could sit down and find a way to make up time. But everything costs money. You would have double shifts”

“It’s probably possible,” he added, “but we need to get started ASAP.”