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Courtesy of the New York Daily News

Last month I mentioned that on Community Board 1’s agenda, other than FreshDirect, was the future of PS 31 on the Grand Concourse and East 144th Street – the grand landmarked yet abandoned school affectionately known as the Castle on the Concourse.

After the heated FreshDirect session, representatives for SoBro came up and gave a compelling report as to why the edifice should be saved. The organization has received word from Goldman Sachs that they are interested in saving the distressed property which SoBro has had engineers perform various inspections. According to those engineering reports, although the building suffered damage from Superstorm Sandy, it is still salvageable.

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SoBro says that they have a solid plan to develop the property into a mixed use residential apartment complex with mixed income residents as well as possible ground floor commercial and or community space.

The immediately surrounding area has been rezoned under the Lower Concourse Rezoning Plan which is bounded north by East 149th Street, south by East 135th Street and the Major Deegan Expressway, West by the Harlem River and east by Morris and Lincoln Avenues. [note: the block on the Grand Concourse containing Hostos Community College directly south of 149th Street was omitted from the rezoning].

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This massive area encompasses 30 city blocks that mostly have been dormant for decades. Already a new development is rising as a direct result to the new rezoning just 4 blocks from PS 31 and if SoBro gets its wishes granted, this may be the turning point in a long abandoned neighborhood.

The area is full of architecturally rich empty warehouses just waiting to be turned into residential lofts and with the Bronx the fastest growing borough, the demands need to be met.

The plan isn’t without opposition although it comes from the city and not the community. The community appears to be in vast agreement that the building should and needs to be preserved.

After representatives from SoBro gave their testimonies, much to the applause of residents attending CB1’S meeting, came representatives from mayor Bloomberg’s office. Along with the Deputy Mayor, an engineer with the Department of Buildings, testified that the building poses a serious threat to the community and their recommendation is to tear it down. This is in direct opposition to the SoBro engineer who’s report says the contrary.

When pressed by the community board of the building will be torn down the representative only gave vague responses that they would not act without consulting with the board again.

Personally, with my 15 years experience in the real estate industry, I think it is the city’s responsibility to do whatever it takes to save this landmark building all the while preserving public safety which unfortunately trumps anything else.

A third, independent group should request an engineering report to see what is going on at the site since both parties have their own agendas but it should come at the city’s expense who is responsible for letting this architectural gem collapse into its current deplorable state.

The administration should be ashamed of themselves that yet again, they let the people of the Bronx, particularly the South Bronx, down again by abandoning something that meant to us.

What do you think? Let us know below!

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