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Ft. Greene pre-school may be demolished to make way for new tower

Lesson over: The Fleet Place Duffield Children’s Center could shutter to make way for a 21-story tower.
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This school may be out for good.

A Fort Greene pre-school could face the wrecking ball if the city approves a developer’s proposal to demolish it and erect a mixed-use tower in its place.

Bigwigs at Borough Park–based builder the Leser Group want officials to green-light a rezoning application in order to construct the 21-story tower at 101 Fleet Pl. — a job that would boot the Duffield Children’s Center, where more than 60 2-to-5-year-olds learn to read and write, from its 20-year home inside the current one-story structure at that address.

The developer, which owns the center’s current building, originally proposed including a new public school in its planned tower, but pulled that amenity from the formal rezoning request it submitted in July, after floating various versions of the scheme for roughly two years, according to Community Board 2’s district manager.

“It’s been kicking around for a long time — for the longest time it was going to include a school, but that’s not true,” said Rob Perris. “The drawings I have seen show an all-new building from the ground up.”

Online city records show the rezoning application for the tower still includes space for a public school, but both Perris and a rep for Fort Greene Councilwoman Laurie Cumbo said the builders, who declined to comment on the development, nixed that part of the project.

In 2010, some mothers feared that the Downtown-adjacent pre-school — where “Mean Girls” star Lindsay Lohan did some community service back in 2015 — run by area do-good group Brooklyn Community Services would soon shutter to make way for condos, forcing them to bring their kids to distant neighborhoods for their early education.

But leaders of the Fleet Place learning center between Myrtle Avenue and Willoughby Street — which school operators leased from the Leser Group annually for the past several years, according to information from Cumbo’s office — kept its doors open despite that speculation, although they struggled to fill the classrooms’ seats, Perris said.

“I hate to lose any sort of useful community center, but Brooklyn Community Services has struggled to run the Duffield Children’s Center at full capacity,” he said.

Executives from the Leser Group — which is also building swanky rehabilitation center in Red Hook — are slated to present their plans for the tower to CB2’s Land Use Committee on Nov. 21 as they wait for officials with the City Planning Commission to approve their rezoning request and kick off the project’s lengthy journey through the city’s lengthy Uniform Land Use Review Procedure, which requires it go before the panel, Borough President Adams, the City Planning Commission, Council, and ultimately Mayor DeBlasio.

Cumbo, who holds the key Council vote on whether the tower can rise because its plot sits in her district, is waiting for feedback from both the community and the beep before deciding if she’ll give it her support, according to a rep.

Reps for Brooklyn Community Services declined to comment, but Cumbo’s rep said the organization is aware of the development and plans to relocate the learning center, thought it doesn’t yet know where.

Weigh in on the 101 Fleet Pl. rezoning at Community Board 2’s meeting at the New York University Tandon School of Engineering (5 Metrotech Center near Tech Place in Downtown, Dibner Building, Room LC400) on Nov. 21 at 6 pm.

Reach reporter Julianne Cuba at (718) 260–4577 or by e-mail at jcuba@cnglocal.com. Follow her on Twitter @julcuba.
Posted 10:00 am, November 16, 2018
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