Another kind of building boom: Private school construction is a $1B biz

Schools turn to flashy amenities to attract students
October 31, 2017 09:15AM

The Brearley School

Private K-12 school renovations have become fertile ground for construction companies as parents and administrators increasingly push for both needed upgrades and flashy amenities that will attract prospective students.

From January 2014 to September, construction and renovation starts for private K-12 schools in the city reached more than $948 million, according to Dodge Data & Analytics. Compare that to the four years that ended in 2007, when starts totaled $377 million (not accounting for inflation). The surge in construction can be partially attributed to low-interest rates and increasing school enrollment, the Wall Street Journal reported.

For some schools, the renovations deliver much-needed upgrades and expansions. For others, they add amenities like a new gym, a golf simulator or a swimming pool.

“They think if you can afford a bigger building it must say something about you as an institution,”Amy Poeppel, a recent private-school parent and author of “Small Admissions,” told the Journal. “Shiny spaces matter to New Yorkers.”

To help address overcrowding issues in public schools, the city’s five-year capital plan through 2019 includes $6 billion to add 49,200 seats and prekindergarten programs. Another $6 billion will be dedicated to upgrades and repairs. [WSJ] — Kathryn Brenzel