Success Academy Charts a Course for Hudson Yards | chelseanow.com

Success Academy Charts a Course for Hudson Yards

An architect’s rendering shows an elementary school classroom at Success’ space at 555 10th Ave. Image courtesy Success Academy Charter Schools.

An architect’s rendering shows an elementary school classroom at Success’ space at 555 10th Ave. Image courtesy Success Academy Charter Schools.

BY DENNIS LYNCH | Success Academy Charter Schools made its first private purchase of school space earlier this month, paying nearly $68 million for a space at a tower at the north end of the Hudson Yards area.

It’s a surprise move from Success Academy, which has only opened in publicly funded buildings — and fought vigorously with the city at times to do so — since its founding a decade ago.

Success purchased 93,871 square feet of commercial condominium space on a lower floor of 555 10th Ave., a 56-story mixed-use tower developed by Extell Properties at the corner of W. 41st St., according to the Real Deal.

Success expects to open sometime in 2017.

Success will run an elementary school, a middle school, and a teacher training center at the space. Officials expect to accommodate 420 students from kindergarten through fourth grade, and 480 in grades five through eight when the school is fully enrolled by 2020, according to a spokesperson.

Success Academy paid nearly $68 million for just under 94,000 square feet of space at the base of 555 10th Ave., a 56-story glass tower at the corner of W. 41st St. Image via Extell Properties.

Success Academy paid nearly $68 million for just under 94,000 square feet of space at the base of 555 10th Ave., a 56-story glass tower at the corner of W. 41st St. Image via Extell Properties.

The developers behind the largest chunk of Hudson Yards, which include Related Companies and Oxford Properties Group, have set aside space for a 750-seat Department of Education-run (DOE) public elementary/middle school as well, bringing the count of school seats at Hudson Yards up to 1,650.

The new neighborhood will need these school seats, since it includes thousands of residences, including 480 market rate and 120 below-market-rate units in 555 10th Ave., according to CityRealty, a real estate transaction and informational service.

Any student within a city school district is allowed to apply for a seat at any school in that district, but the DOE fills the vast majority of seats at a given school with students in the geographic catchment zone it sets around each physical school location. That means many of the students at the city-run school at Hudson Yards could come from the immediate area around Hudson Yards.

But charter schools are not zoned with a catchment area, only to the school district in which it is located. The Success schools at Hudson Yards will be open to any student in District 2, which covers much of the Upper East Side and all of Manhattan below Central Park besides the East Village and Lower East Side. A spokesperson said this means the student body will likely be as diverse as the district itself.

“All kids with addresses in [District 2] are given the same chance within the lottery,” she said. “So in that sense, its likely the student population at the [Hudson Yards school] will be diverse, socioeconomically and racially, similar to our schools at Union Square and [the] Upper West [Side].”

The spokesperson added that the programming at the 555 10th Ave. location would be similar to the programming at other Success schools, and likely not have specific partnerships with any of the businesses moving into Hudson Yards, which include some tech and media companies. Success does not typically do “one-off” partnership programs because one goal of the charter academy is “being able to deliver high-quality education at scale.”

District 2 is the city’s largest district by enrollment as of the 2014-2015 school year, according to DOE data from June. With a 90% utilization of its target 70,888 seats, it is less crowded than the citywide average of 96%.

An architect’s rendering of what a middle school classroom at the Success Academy space will resemble. Image courtesy Success Academy Charter Schools.

An architect’s rendering of what a middle school classroom at the Success Academy space will resemble. Image courtesy Success Academy Charter Schools.

A Success Academy spokesperson did not say if the charter would look to independently purchase other spaces for its schools in the future. Success’ founder Eva Moskowitz has battled Mayor Bill de Blasio since he took office to provide more space in DOE-run public school buildings for Success Academy classrooms.

Demand is extremely high for seats at Success schools — more than 20,000 students applied for around 3,200 open seats for the 2016-2017 school year, according to Success Academy’s own numbers.