Photo via Google street view
By Alejandra O’Connell-Domenech

Our World Charter School (OWCS) is one step closer to getting the green light on relocating from Astoria to Long Island City with a bigger campus.

At a Dec. 6 Community Board 2 meeting in Sunnyside, the Community Board voted unanimously in favor of OWCS’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 Long Island City campus is set to built.

Currently, OWCS has 730 students at their elementary and middle school in Astoria.

The expected 750 students will only occupy six stories of the proposed new building. The first three stories of the proposed building will be used for commercial space, which will be constructed regardless of whether OWCS sits on top of it or not.

Representatives from OWCS 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.

OWCS 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 Parent’s Network, decided to write OWCS 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 be obtained in January 2019.

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