Back in 2012, when Magnum Real Estate‘s Ben Shaoul announced plans to turn the Cabrini nursing home in the East Village into condos, more than a handful of “Sledgehammer Shaoul” flags went up in protest. Plans moved ahead despite public outcry, and now more than two years later, the former nursing home has transformed into a luxury residential building called Bloom 62. Although not much has been done to dress up the exterior, the 26-unit condo is no slouch and boasts a number of enviable luxuries, including a landscaped roof deck and gym. But Bloom 62’s most valuable amenity may be what sits on its ground floor: a school.
Though we wouldn’t quite call Shaoul a community man just yet, we will credit his decision to allow The New Amsterdam school to take up tenancy as a smart one with wide-reaching effects. Sources tell us that the ground floor space was originally laid out as two commercial units, and though there were retailers interested, Shaoul opted for a single tenant, striking a deal with New Amsterdam to build out the space. New Amsterdam as a result pays a higher rent with a long lease in place, and the building benefits from a higher capitalization. Another perk for the school is that it effectively amortizes the construction build-out over the life of its lease. A win-win.
But beyond this, the bigger picture benefit to Shaoul may be access to the pool of families trying to enroll their children in a quality school. It’s no secret that non-real estate entities can increase a neighborhoods attractiveness and in turn value, and good schools are one of the city’s most scarce and hotly sought after resources. (Where else are kindergarteners subjected to wait lists?) All other factors being held equal, many families are willing to pay more for houses in highly rated school districts compared with homes in neighborhoods where the schools have lower ratings and test results.
This will also prove advantageous for Shaoul if he ever decides to turn the rental into a co-op. Nationally, buyers pay on average $50 more per square foot for homes in top-rated school districts, and in New York buyers pay an even higher premium. Studies show that over 90% of prospective home buyers factor in school boundaries in their search, and many are willing to compromise on space if it means fitting into a school district’s zone. This is why you’ll see opposition from property owners with and without kids, and brokers, when districts are re-zoned—as was the case with P.S. 321 and P.S. 107 in Park Slope in 2012.
“There is a high demand for schooling and children’s programs throughout Manhattan and Brooklyn,” says Jill Fehrenbacher, whose son attends New Amsterdam School. “The city’s population of kids is on the rise but educational offerings remain extremely limited. Every program is overcrowded. We took things into our own hands and together we managed to create something that benefits the community at large.”
The New Amsterdam School, which welcomed its first set of students last week, was fundraised by parents and designed by James Vira of Viraline Architects. Being a Waldorf school, the space was built to be as nurturing, green and healthy for the students as possible. In addition to using organic materials in construction, including local hardwoods, wool and silk, the curriculum is ecologically-
The school’s leasing of 62 Avenue B is part of a larger expansion that includes a space on Clinton Street, between Houston and Stanton (leased August of 2013). A new grade will be added each year, with the program potentially reaching as far as grade 8.
Currently, one bedrooms on Bloom 62 start at $3,455; two bedrooms $4,400; three bedrooms $5,400; and four bedrooms $6,600. Before the arrival of the school, The Post reported earlier this year that the building could sell for $70 million.
[Listings: Bloom 62 at CityRealty]
Lead image courtesy of Bloom 62, other images courtesy of Jill Fehrenbacher