The community has been battling to save the landmark PS 31 aka ‘The Castle on The Concourse’ ever since we found that the city wanted to demolish this beloved treasure.
The City testified saying that it couldn’t withstand more storms and was a public hazard and YET 2 brutal winters have passed SINCE the June 2013 hearings at Community Board 1, PS 31 is STILL standing and is in the same condition.
Engineers hired by SoBro performed an inspection of the property and issued a report stating that the building, although badly damaged, it is salvageable and so much so that even Goldman Sachs was interested in investing in the revitalization of this property.
On December 17, 2013, the Landmarks Preservation Commission voted NO to the Department of Building’s request to strip the structure’s landmark status and had harsh words for the city. We were present at that meeting and this is what we wrote on that day:
“Both New York City Department of Buildings and HUD could not provide enough evidence as to why Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) should strip PS 31’s landmark status even in the edifice’s deteriorating condition.
The city agencies tried hard to convince the Commission to approve the application to strip the beloved Castle on the Concourse landmark status so that they could demolish it but instead were met with resistance.
LPC instead, lambasted all city agencies responsible for letting such a beloved structure that means so much to the community to decay. Despicable, shameful, and appalling were just some of the words used by the members of the Commission as they took turns to comment and voice their agreement or disagreement with the application to de-landmark the vacant school.
Only one Commission member voted to approve the application citing the safety concerns however most other members reiterated that anything that can be done to shore up the building should be done.”
Having been in the residential real estate appraisal industry for 15 years, I have performed countless exterior inspections of properties in New York City. PS 31, as of today, is in the EXACT same exterior condition as it was a year ago when we wrote an update on how it survived the harshest winter in 20 years. Although I am not a qualified engineer, we are trained to observe differences in properties when performing exterior inspections including to report whether a property’s condition has improved, remained the same or worsened.
Department of Building claims that the building is falling apart but photographic evidence here clearly shows that 11 months and 2 brutal winters later, the building is in the exact same condition. We must ask ourselves, what exactly is going on here?
On one hand we have DOB claiming doom and gloom and the building can’t be saved and on the other hand we have photographic evidence that the structure is still intact with no further deterioration as DOB has claimed and on the other hand we have an engineering report from SoBro stating that although structurally unsound, the building is salvageable.
As a community, we cannot let our history so callously be erased. This would never happen in Manhattan or Brooklyn or elsewhere in the City of New York so why should we allow this to happen in The Bronx?
Lisa Lavalle, great-granddaughter of C.B.J Snyder the renowned architect of PS 31 and many other beloved Bronx and New York City landmarks, is in full support to rescue her great-grandfather’s masterwork and wrote a letter to Bronx resident Carmen Santiago stating so. Santiago has kept Lavalle up-to-date on the saga behind our endeavors as a community to salvage this treasured edifice.
It has been reported that the city would want to develop the land for affordable housing. This is NOT the way to develop affordable housing by destroying our landmarks and history.
Please take a moment to sign the petition and share it with your networks. Tell the city that this is NOT acceptable and that it MUST be saved.
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