Affordable Housing To Be Built At The Site of Former 19-Century School Building

Affordable Housing To Be Built At The Site of Former 19-Century School Building
Flatbush District #1 School Building in 1931. (Photo: Brooklyn Public Library)

The city is looking to develop the former site of P.S. 90 at the corner of Church and Bedford avenues in Flatbush into affordable housing and community space.

The New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) released a Request For Qualifications (RFQ) yesterday to establish a group of “Qualified Applicants” that will be invited to respond to a Request for Proposals (RFP) to develop “high-quality, sustainable, mixed-use affordable housing with youth services.”  To qualify for this RFP, applicants must include Minority and Women-owned Business Enterprises (M/WBE) or a non-profit that will hold 25% interest in the project.

The former site of Flatbush District #1 School at Bedford and Church Avenues. (Photo: Sarah Crean/Bklyner)

The 20,000 square foot city-owned site has been sitting vacant since the 19th-century school building, a New York City Landmark, was demolished in 2015.

The school building was built in 1878 and completed in 1894 by John Culyer, the Chief Engineer of Prospect Park and designer of the Flatbush Town Hall when Flatbush was still an independent village.

When Flatbush joined The City of Brooklyn in 1894, the school became P.S. 90, and remained open until 1951. In 1954, the school was turned into the Brooklyn Branch of the Yeshiva University Boy’s High School. Then, from 1968 to the 1990s, it was Beth Rivkah, a private all-girls Jewish school.

In addition to its long-standing educational history, the vacant site also contains what an archaeological excavation found to be a small number of fragments of human remains, which were discovered in 2001.

These findings lead archaeologists to believe that there was once a burial ground for people of African ancestry nearby.

PS 90 in 2007. By Nicholas Strini/PropertyShark

A community task force was established in December of 2020 by the New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC), the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission (NYCLPC), to advise on proper handling and memorialization of additional artifacts or human remains, should they be discovered during further construction.

The task force was also charged with trying to identify any potential descendant communities of any colonial enslaved and freed Africans who resided in early Flatbush. If any remains are found at the site, they are to be transferred to the minister of the Reformed Dutch Church of Flatbush for a second burial in their consecrated cemetery.

Through their work with the task force, the HPD aims to respect the history of the vacant site, while being “deeply committed to putting the City’s dwindling supply of vacant land to use as affordable housing coupled with community resources,”

“We are excited to work with the local leaders, the community task force, the Landmarks Preservation Commission, and the Economic Development Corporation on a community-driven process that will ensure the plans for this long-vacant site captures and respects its special history while bringing desperately needed affordable housing and youth services to the Flatbush neighborhood,” HPD Commissioner Louise Carroll said in a statement.

UPDATE: Clarified that remains were found in 2001 and taskforce was established in December of 2020.


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