UPPER EAST SIDE, NY — The city plans to open a new early childhood center on the Upper East Side by converting an old garage building, officials announced Tuesday, helping address what leaders say is a critical neighborhood shortage.
The pre-K and 3-K center will open by the fall of 2024 at 403 East 65th St., between First and York avenues — now home to a three-floor garage, according to City Council Member Julie Menin and the School Construction Authority.
Spanning 30,000 square feet, the center will house up to 10 classrooms for three- and four-year-olds. That may come as a relief for neighborhood parents, who have long complained about being left out of the city’s universal pre-K program, especially during its early rollout — in 2017, for example, more than 900 Upper East Side families applied to just 596 seats.
Now, the Upper East Side has 1,888 pre-K seats and 828 3-K seats. But there are no standalone, city-run early childhood centers in the 10065 ZIP code, spanning the East Side from 60th to 69th streets, where the new facility will be built.
“Early childhood education is an incredible asset for so many children and working families across our city and I am thrilled to announce the addition of up to 10 new early childhood classes for the East Side of Manhattan,” said Menin, who has pushed for more early childcare programs since taking office in January.
The School Construction Authority will lease the school space from the owners of the garage building: listed in city records as Friedland Properties, which owns properties across the neighborhood.
Friedland has been at work renovating the building since May, filing plans to demolish the interior, restore its exterior and convert its usage to a school.
“By taking a pragmatic approach seeking opportunities to lease non-traditional space, we’re opening up new possibilities that previously went untapped to ensure a greater availability of early education seats,” said SCA President and CEO Nina Kubota on Tuesday.
Last year, then-City Council Member Ben Kallos urged the city to open new 3-K centers at existing childhood providers or in the neighborhood’s many vacant storefronts, saying the Upper East Side was well short of the necessary number of seats.