Success Academy eyes landmark Melrose building

A rendering of the classic courthouse structure as a Success Academy high school is pictured here.
Photo courtesy of Success Academy

Success Academy has plans for a new school in a landmarked building.

The charter school network recently announced their intentions of opening a high school in the historic Old Bronx Borough Courthouse in Melrose.

The building was last used as a criminal court four decades ago.

Liberty Square Realty purchased the property from the city in 1998, and the structure, built between 1905 and 1914, is on its way to a new use.

Success Academy CEO Eva Moskowitz said that the space would be transformed into a “historic house of learning” with modern classrooms.

“Forty years ago, this building housed prisoners waiting for trial,” said Moskowitz in a statement, adding “Success is quite literally transforming the school-to-prison pipeline to a school-to-college-and-prosperity pipeline.”

Success plans to lease the building, which is a nine-story, 113,000 square foot space, according to Success Academy.

The school will be called Success Academy High School of the Liberal Arts, and is scheduled for a fall of 2018 opening.

A spokeswoman for Success said that the expansion was necessary because the network currently has only one high school, in midtown Manhattan.

Success Academy currently operates six elementary and middle schools in the borough, she said.

Since the students stick with Success for their entire pre-college education, high school space is needed to accommodate growth, she said.

“We have a growing community in the Bronx,” she stated. “We wanted a dedicated space that is convenient and modern.”

The building is located at East 161st Street, Third and Brook avenues.

John Dudley, Community Board 3 district manager, said that he plans to reach out to the organization to have them address the board about its plan.

“It seems good and rewarding to hear about plans to have a charter school educational institution,” said Dudley. “I just want to hear a little bit more about it to see if it sort of ‘fits in line.’”

The district manager said he was surprised when he learned of the proposal recently.

He was obtaining an update on the vacant property when he discovered the building had been repurposed.

Dudley said the board would look into any changes that need to be made to accommodate the school, which will house more than 800 students.

“I want to see how a school of that size would fare; I love the fact that they are doing well and are successful as a charter school,” said the district manager.

Dudley added: “I would like to see the impact of the charter school in that area and how it would play out.”

He also said the Success Academy Plan could lead to the possible creation of a learning hub because it is close to Boricua College.

Lloyd Ultan, Bronx County Borough Historian, said that the building’s exterior is landmarked and that it was built in a European style with a lot of classical and Renaissance elements.

“It is monumental in a sense,” he said. “It dominates the corner.”

Reach Reporter Patrick Rocchio at (718) 260–4597. E-mail him at procchio@cnglocal.com. Follow him on Twitter @patrickfrocchio.
Photo courtesy of Success Academy

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