Neighbors appeal Spence School’s quiet expansion

October 19, 2011 09:46AM

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Clockwise from top left: The William Goadby Loew House at 56 East 93rd Street, 22 East 91st Street (credit PropertyShark), the Wanamaker Munn House and 412 East 90th Street (credit PropertyShark)

The Spence School has quietly been expanding on the Upper East Side even as neighbors voice loud concern over the effects of the expansion on a wealthy, residential area of the city.

According to the New York Observer, in the last three years the school has spent more than $53 million to add the Wanamaker Munn House, which sits directly behind the its middle and upper school at 22 East 91st Street, and a lot at 412 East 90th Street that will become a physical education facility to its real estate collection. Spence also owns the iconic William Goadby Loew House at 56 East 93rd Street.

The neighbors biggest concern though is a 33-foot-tall glass enclosed structure that will connect 22 East 91st Street to the Wanamaker building directly south. Neighbors didn’t object to the idea of a corridor to connect the structures, but the plans have become more expansive and resemble an Apple store, according to the Observer. Nevertheless, the Landmarks Preservation Commission and Community Board 8 approved the plan, leaving some neighbors to believe the groups were swayed by the school’s considerable clout.

Spence had been telling neighbors the structure is necessary, not only for its aesthetic value, but also because the school is desperate for space. Locals are upset about the school claiming it needs to build larger structures, while keeping its purchase of 412 East 90th Street close to vest. Now, they’re taking one final stand against the corridor plans to the Board of Standards and Appeals, which will make a decision later this month. [NYO]