Schools banking on public-private partnerships to develop new buildings

By Michael Stoler | May 24, 2011 11:28AM

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With the fiscally strapped state and city cutting financial
support for the development of new buildings, a number of
New York City and state higher education institutions are
working with business leaders to construct much needed
facility expansion and upgrades.

Over the last decade, schools and hospitals have found their
funding for new facilities through public-private partnerships.
Recently, the City University of New York, for example, is a
leader in the public-private partnership strategy.

Construction is underway at the new East Harlem home of
the Hunter College School of Social Work, which will also
house the CUNY School of Public Health. The School of
Social Work will be located in a new eight-story, 147,000-square-foot building on Third Avenue between 118th and
119th streets. The site is also home to an 100-bed housing
facility
for CUNY graduate students. Approximately one-third of
one of the buildings will be occupied by CUNY’s new School
of Public Health.

Construction of the new mixed-use building was made
possible through a public-private partnership with the
Brodsky Organization, and the Lois and Samuel J.
Silberman Fund, the latter which owned the Hunter College
School of Social Work on East 79th Street. Brodsky is
erecting the new building in exchange for development
rights on the 79th Street site, which it purchased from the
Silberman Fund.

CUNY is also using a public-private partnership to create
a home for its new community college, set to open in
Manhattan in 2012. The project will be at the site of the
North Hall Building on the John Jay College of Criminal
Justice campus.

The part of the John Jay campus housed in the North
Hall Building is currently moving to a new facility under
construction on the West Side and 59th street. CUNY
plans to sell the upper portion of the North Hall site to
private developers and retain the balance of it for the new
community college.

The partnership will enable CUNY to finance a portion of
the new college’s facility with proceeds from the sale, while
relying on the state for the full appropriation. CUNY would
own the lower portion of the building, which would house
the new community college, and the upper floors would be
developed as residential or commercial units.

Last December, the Alexandria Center for Life Science, at the East River Science Park, opened on the East Side. The new 310,000-square-foot,
15-floor life science building, considered a cluster campus,
is a collaboration between New York City world-renowned
academic and medical institutions, preeminent scientific
talent, venture capital funds and the commercial life science
industry. The park is a development of Alexandria Real
Estate Equities, a publicly-traded real estate investment
trust.

The Alexandria Center is located on a three-acre city-owned
site and the city provided $13.4 million in capital funds for its
construction. The State of New York is providing $27 million
for infrastructure work in connection with the project, and
Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer contributed
$500,000. Additionally, the New York City Investment Fund,
the economic development arm of the Partnership for New
York City, is providing $15 million in funding to be used for
tenant improvements. About $2 million in funds from the U.S.
Economic Development Administration has been secured for
the project.

Public-private development programs are in vogue and will
continue throughout the balance of the 21st century.

Michael Stoler is a columnist for The Real Deal and host of
real estate programs “The Stoler Report” and “Building New
York” on CUNY TV and on WEGTV in East Hampton. His
radio show, “The Michael Stoler Real Estate Report,” airs on
1010 WINS on Saturdays and Sundays. Stoler is a director
at Madison Realty Capital as well as an adjunct professor at
NYU Real Estate Institute, and a former contributing editor
and columnist for the New York Sun.