Our World Charter Neighborhood School (OWNCS) is one step closer to getting the green light on building a new elementary and middle school in Long Island City.
At a Community Board 2 meeting on Dec. 6 in Sunnyside, the Community Board voted unanimously in favor of OWNCS’s request to open a new elementary school and relocate their middle school to a new nine-story building at 9-03 44th Rd. The new school will be right next door to the two lots on 44th and 46th roads where Amazon’s new LIC campus is set to built.
Currently, OWNCS has three campuses: an elementary school in Astoria, a middle school in Astoria and an elementary school in Howard Beach. The new facility will serve as a third elementary school campus and new home for OWNCS’ current middle school students.
The expected 750 students will only occupy six stories of the proposed new building. The first three stories will be used for commercial space, which will be constructed regardless of whether OWNCS sits on top of it or not.
Representatives from OWNCS said the school would have its own entrance on 44th Avenue and that two elevators will in installed in the building to accommodate students with limited mobility. There will also be staff assigned to escorting students back and forth from nearby train and bus stops.
OWNCS was one of the earliest charter schools founded New York City. The city’s first charter school opened in Harlem in 1999, a year after the Charter Schools Act was passed. In 2000, a small group of parents known as the Astoria Parents Network, decided to write OWNCS original charter. The school was opened a year later with the mission to create lifelong learners and independent thinkers.
“While other students are looking to test students we are making sure that our students get that quality liberal arts education,” said Director of External Relations Mark Crusante. He hopes that once the Board of Standards and Appeals gives their final approval, an architect can come in a properly design the layout of the new gymnasium, art rooms and science labs.
In order for construction to officially begin on the new facility, the Board of Standards and Appeals (BSA) must give OWCS approval to build in an M1 zone, which are typically for manufacturing and commercial use.
“The Board of Standards and Appeals may permit schools in M1 districts that are located no more than 400 feet from the boundary of a district were a school would be permitted as-of-right via a Special Permit section 73-19 of the New York City Zoning Resolution,” said BSA spokesperson Carlo Costanza.
Approval is expected to happen in January 2019.