Education / News

Charter school signs on to stay in BankNote

The American Banknote Building, where the John V. Lindsay Wildcat Academy Charter School will remain.

Hunts Point’s historic BankNote building will continue to be home to the the John V. Lindsay Wildcat Academy Charter School, at least until 2022.

The school, which serves a population of 275 students has extended its lease on the fourth, fifth and sixth floors of the Lafayette Avenue building.

The building was bought late in 2007 by and is undergoing extensive renovations.

In a press release announcing the deal, the developers, Denham Wolf Real Estate Services and Taconic Investment Partners, said they planned “to create a campus environment” in a portion of the building with private entrances, an on-site playground and student drop off area. We hope that JVL will soon be joined by additional schools and educational programs at The BankNote,” said Paul Wolf.

This emphasis on schools marks a shift in plans for the building. On Jan. 18, 2008, shortly after they purchased the American Banknote Building for $32 million, the developers announced that “Ideally, our tenants mix would encompass visual arts, performing groups, architects, web designers, film production/studios, emerging green businesses, and an international food market.”

Since then, the real estate market has cratered, and they have announced just one other lease, a renewal and expansion of a wine storage facility.

In announcing the deal with Wildcat Academy, the developers said the asking price had been in the neighborhood of $25 a square foot, but declined to disclose the actual terms.

Wildcat is a second-chance school for students who have not completed high school elsewhere. It offers culinary training, along with standard academic fare.

“We want to make sure we serve the most underserved,” said Principal Mark Donald, adding that as a charter school, “Wildcat must continually show its commitment to a specialization that sets it apart from other schools.”

Wildcat has served high school students on three floors of the BankNote since 1997. The school was renovated in 2005 with a $1 million grant from the Charles Hayden Foundation. Donald said the upgrade made renewing the lease an easy decision.

A version of this story appeared in the June 2009 issue of The Hunts Point Express.

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