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Deal with private developer brings new schools to East Side

The East Side of Manhattan is getting two new school buildings — and the city won’t have to spend a cent on them.

As part of a complicated deal with a private developer, the World-Wide Group, the Department of Education will open a massive, multi-use private development at 57th Street and 2nd Avenue that will include two schools, a Whole Foods, shops, and 320 residential units. Two schools will occupy the space, PS 59 and the High School for Art and Design, which is 1 million square feet and will open in 2012.

Schools Chancellor Joel Klein unveiled the designs for the development this morning at PS 59’s temporary home, a gleaming East Side building that was also renovated by the World-Wide Group last year.

The arrangement will certainly be cheered in the community, since it means 830 new elementary school seats in the overcrowded District 2 region.

It could also become a model for how to build school buildings at little cost to the city. The Department of Education negotiated the deal through the Educational Construction Fund, a finance mechanism that gives private developers access to tax-exempt bonds and city air rights if they commit to including schools in their developments. A Greenwich Village school planned for 2012 will follow a similar model. And also in District 2, another public-private partnership is paying for a new space for East Side Middle School in a 118-unit residential tower on East 91st Street. A crane at that site collapsed this spring, killing a construction worker.

A sketch of the new development and a rendering of its facade, all designed by architecture firm Skidmore Owings and Merrill LLP, are below the jump.

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