Update on BASIS Independent School in Red Hook, by George Fiala

Since we published our last issue, we have learned a few things about the effort to build an elite private school close to the Red Hook Houses.

The owner of the land, who is also a general contractor (his for-rent sign on the lot last summer did say ‘build to suit.’ is Humberto (Herbie) Lopes. Mr. Lopes is a large property owner in Red Hook, as well as a developer. He is a lifelong local resident and his company, H.L. Dynasty, operates at 197 Columbia Street, out of a storefront. He claims to be the second largest Red Hook landowner. He built the Red Hook Initiative building on W. 9th and Hicks, and is their landlord. He built the Holiday Inn on Union and 4th Avenue. His business card says that he deals in residential, commercial and industrial properties. His website shows mostly residential and commercial properties bunched around Hamilton Avenue and Smith/Court Streets.

I met him at a merchants association meeting, and he claimed to have met the BASIS people at some sort of convention outside of New York. That is where he sold them on the idea of opening a school here. He claims that they didn’t know how to prepare for the community board, and that he will make sure that the groundwork is done before their next appearance. What he appears to have done is to contact everyone that was quoted in the articles about the school – including the Daily News and dnaInfo. He was aware of the Red Hook Star-Revue. It turns out that he and BASIS representatives were at the CB6 general meeting which turned down their original request for community approval of their project.

Last Saturday, Lillie Marshall, president of Red Hook West tenants, held her annual Holiday Toy giveaway. She indicated that Mr. Lopes donated $2000 towards the purchase of toys. When asked, she said that before last week she had never heard of Mr. Lopes.

Phaedra Thomas, who represents John Quadrozzi Jr., who was quoted in the Daily News as being against the school, was called personally by Mr. Lopes.

This morning, I received an email from a reader who forwarded me an email she got from the BASIS marketing department. It read as follows:

America's Best Schools Now in Brooklyn
New Private K-12 Option Opening!
Now Accepting Applications
Grades K-10, Academic year 2014/2015
(Will grow to include grades 11 & 12)
BASIS Independent Brooklyn is a new private school in Red Hook, providing a top-ranked STEM-focused liberal arts and sciences curriculum. In the elementary grades in particular, we foster well-rounded students by employing elements of a Montessori approach combined with the structure proven successful in helping young learners grasp and master math and science material. Whether arriving by water taxi or private bus service, students in New York City now have a top-ranked program at their fingertips…with tuition that is far more affordable than comparable programs!
Our academic program graduates students who are, on average, three years ahead of peers in math and four years in science, and ranked at the top of worldwide assessments. Most importantly, they leave with the best possible preparation for college and the challenges of global competition: an intrinsic love of learning and exploration.
BellTel Lofts
365 Bridge Street
1st Floor Business Center
Brooklyn, NY 11201
December 14th, 11:00 AM
A chance to hear from the Admissions Team
20 Jay Street, Suite 800A
Brooklyn, NY 11201
December 16th, 6:30 PM
December 17th, 9:00 AM
A chance to hear from the Admissions Team
December 18th, 9:00 AM
December 19th, 9:00 AM
A chance to hear from the Admissions Team & CEO Mark Reford
Register Now

Evidently, both Mr. Lopes and the BASIS company expects the school to be built by next September, despite the concerns of Community Board 6. And they do not expect any local students to be part of the November classes.

The last I looked, there were a bunch of dumptrucks on the property getting ready to do soil remediation.

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7 Responses to Update on BASIS Independent School in Red Hook, by George Fiala

  1. Red Hook Teacher says:

    Not really sure what the objections are here. That the community wasn’t notified and this school doesn’t offer anything for Red Hook kids? Fair enough, that should have happened, but how much was the community informed before the new Yashiva was built on Pioneer Street and how many Red Hook kids attend that school? So why is this school so much more objectionable? Because it’s expensive and out of reach for Red Hook residents? Yes, it’s jarring to see such luxury right next to the much less affluent, but Red Hook is full of such examples, as is most of New York City. Take the new Imlay Street condos. Who is objecting to those condos on that basis? So the last objection is that the cement trucks will find it harder to drive down the street? Maybe having a bunch of rich kids going to school in the area will keep the streets safer and potential polluters on their toes. Having a school right near the ballfields and the Red Hook farm might improve things for the local environment. Alternately, what is the benefit of leaving the lot vacant, as so many are in Red Hook?

    • redhookstar says:

      I agree with you about the Yeshiva, in fact we editorialized about it at the time. It closes off a potential neighborhood resource, and it was done without anybody batting an eye. Who knows if building codes were even followed.

      As far as leaving the lot vacant versus an ugly looking school building that may or may not even be successful, how about a third way? A Fortune 500 company building a back office location with many jobs, creating a positive economic impact for the area and taking advantage of a strong nearby labor pool. A win win for everybody.

    • Bin says:

      Yeah, what the problem? I’m looking at this school because the G&T moves too slow for my son in math etc. the stuff he loves. We need alternatives. It’s private, Red Hook is a perfect place for this school. Complaining about a school moving into your neighborhood is just crazy.

  2. Brooklyn 11231 says:

    The site is zoned for M-1-1 light manufacturing with educational uses allowed by special permit. (http://www.nyc.gov/html/dcp/html/zone/zh_m1.shtml ) Why should a private property owner and privately-funded school be expected to give scholarships to residents in the neighborhood? If the owner leased his lot to an auto body repair shop instead, would Red Hook residents demand that they give neighbors a discount price or free car repairs? Or how about a Cadillac repair shop? Should a zoning permit be denied because cars are expensive and therefore “elitist ” ? Some of the complaints make no sense.

    • redhookstar says:

      I’m sure that opening an auto body repair shop at that location would make absolutely no waves. In fact it would probably be welcomed by the community, as not only would it be in character with the surrounding businesses, but would provide job opportunities as well as perhaps a useful local service.

      Opening an elite private school is not in character and maybe not in the best interests of the community. The scholarship issue is a red herring – the real issue is the future of Red Hook.

  3. 11217 says:

    20k for a private school is deal!!! most private schools in the city are more than 40K! so it wouldn’t actually attract the super rich but rather the lower middle class.

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