School set to replace Van Cortlandt Motel


For years, many who have lived — or just simply drove by — the Van Cortlandt Motel on Broadway have begged and pleaded for the city to do something about it. Whether it’s attracting more crime, or being used to house people who have nowhere else to go, the motel seemed to be an institution that was never going to go anywhere.

That is, until the School Construction Authority stepped in. And with a swift initial approval by city council, it appears the old buildings that have occupied 6393 Broadway, will be swept away to make room for a new public elementary school.

The construction authority first presented the idea of building a school to Community Board 8 last October. And then, last week, the city council voted to accept what is known as a “negative declaration” about the environmental and traffic impacts such a building would have — something the neighborhood now has just four months to weigh in on.

The school would educate nearly 550 children between pre-kindergarten and fifth grade. And if all goes to plan, those first students should start passing through the doors there by Fall 2028.

Councilman Eric Dinowitz — a former teacher himself — backs the school, although he admits he’s a little concerned about how the campus could impact traffic on an already busy Broadway not far from where it meets the Henry Hudson Parkway.

“Especially as we are looking to reduce class sizes and find more space to build schools, we want to do what we can to make sure that our class sizes are small,” Dinowitz said. “I’m also very concerned about traffic, particularly with drop-off, I mean it’s going to be really tough during those hours.”

The proposal for the new school stems from new state laws mandating smaller class sizes. Creating that better student-to-teacher ratio means more space for classroom. That can be achieved either by removing specialized spaces for music, art, science and libraries, according to notes from CB8 last fall, or by building new schools.

The law, which is fully enforced by about the same time this new school would open, limits classes in kindergarten through third grade to just 20 students. Classes in fourth through eighth grade can’t have more than 23 students, while high school classrooms will be capped at 25.

The community board did not respond to requests for comment about the new school, but notes from the October meeting talked about concerns of how migrant families might impact school population, as well as traffic.

But the construction authority told the council these won’t be issues, adding that “the minor increase in traffic volumes with the proposed project are not expected to result in any significant adverse impacts to the character of the community.”

The entire 37,000-square-foot site would take up three lots on Broadway near recently constructed apartment housing, and The W Assisted Living Facility. Plans include a six-story school building with 23 main classrooms, a pair of special education classrooms, 10 classrooms for students who need highly specialized instructional support, as well as space for speech resources, music and art.

There will be an 11,800-square-foot playground on campus, but no details about parking.

In fact, the construction authority says teachers will have to park on the street, where it claims some 70 spots were open during morning peak hours, more than enough for the 40 or so faculty members that will need to park.

Construction will take three years, meaning demolition of the motel — although not scheduled yet — will have to happen before the end of the year.

Van Cortlandt Motel Broadway development Public elementary school School Construction Authority Community Board 8 Bronx neighborhood transformation Traffic impact assessment Class size reduction Education infrastructure Urban redevelopment projects Bronx community improvement Environmental impact assessment School construction timeline Community engagement City council approval process