PUBLIC ADVOCATE BACKS RIVERSIDE PROJECT

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By Dan Rivoli

Bill de Blasio, the public advocate, is now advocating in favor of Riverside Center. De Blasio gave his conditional support a day after the City Planning Commission approved the mega-development with a near unanimous vote.

De Blasio praised the mixed-use retail and residential project for adding affordable housing, creating jobs and, perhaps most importantly, a new school.

“There is a crying need for a large school on the Upper West Side,” de Blasio said in a statement. “

The school has been a football in the review process. Extell, the developer, would provide 75,000 square feet for a new school. If the city wants a full 150,000-square-foot school, the School Construction Authority would have to foot the bill. Some community leaders and elected officials want the developer to pay and construct the school on its own.

The issue will likely be revisited as Riverside Center moves to the final leg of the approval process; City Council Member Gale Brewer—whose support is critical to the project’s approval—wants Extell to finance the new school.

“We must use the City Council process to hold the city and developer accountable for providing the full 150,000 square feet of school space,” de Blasio said.

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