City’s Planned Move to Downtown Offers New Rochelle School District Historic Opportunity

City’s Planned Move to Downtown Offers New Rochelle School District Historic Opportunity

Written By: City School District of New Rochelle

NEW ROCHELLE, NY — The planned move of New Rochelle city government offices from 515 North Avenue offers a historic opportunity for the City School District of New Rochelle to gain space for operations and classes.

The School District has shared the 121,000-square-foot building for decades, with city government on the ground floor and first floor and the District on the second and third stories. With the move, expected sometime in 2021, the School District will gain an additional 86,000 square feet of space for instructional space, offices and other uses.

The District’s business office will work with architects and construction managers to analyze the space to determine the best use of the two floors. This process will also provide estimated costs and timetables for work. Concurrently, the District will conduct an assessment of the student educational space needs. That assessment will include public input sessions. 

“This space will open possibilities for the School District,” said Superintendent Dr. Brian Osborne. “It’s an exciting project and our guiding principle for how to best use the space will be what is best for our students. We look forward to working with parents, teachers, and the public to how to best take advantage of this expansion of the School District.”

The School District hopes to renovate and open the former City Hall with its new uses in September, 2022. 

The full occupation of the building by the School District is a return of sorts to its original ownership. The building, an iconic site on New Rochelle’s main north-south artery, opened in 1906 as New Rochelle High School. Wings were added in 1918 and 1922, and the building later took on roles as a vocational high school and junior high school. Its most recent incarnation as a school – the Albert Leonard School – vacated the building in 1960.

In 1961, renovations began to convert 515 North Avenue into a shared government building to include City Hall, the Board of Education, the police and fire departments and City Court. The building reopened in 1963.

In a November, 2017, building condition survey conducted by CSArch architects, engineers and construction managers, the firm identified $14.6 million in work that would be needed to bring the entire building up to good condition and meet needs expected over the coming five years.

Also, converting areas to instructional space requires meeting additional conditions set by the New York State Education Department. Renovations into instructional space may be eligible for state building aid reimbursements.

“We will study the space and its possibilities thoroughly,” Dr. Osborne said. “While we don’t yet know which programs and functions will occupy the floors, we intend to use the space to bring a new era to the School District.”