Students head to old Pitney Bowes HQ
STAMFORD —Westover Magnet Elementary School students skipped a few rungs in the life ladder Wednesday after the city announced they will move into an office building while their old school is remediated.
Westover students and staff, who have been displaced since the school was closed last week due to severe mold conditions, will move next Tuesday into the Silicon Harbor building, a largely vacant office space owned by Building and Land Technology, the developer behind the sprawling Harbor Point development in the South End.
Details, including the cost and length of lease involved in the deal, were discussed at an emergency meeting of the Board of Representatives, Board of Finance and the Planning Board late Wednesday.
The nearly 470,000-square-foot building, once the world headquarters of Pitney Bowes, was built in 1984. The company sold the office behemoth designed by I.M. Pei & Partners to BLT in 2015 for $38.5 million.
BLT has since rebranded it “Silicon Harbor” to lure tech companies with little success. As of this summer, the building was vacant — BLT its only occupant — as the developer refurbished and renovated the interior and exterior.
A spokesman for the developer declined to comment.
According to a news release, some office space will be renovated for the students. It’s unclear how much space will become classrooms. The school comprises some 700 students and 100 staff members.
The choice of Silicon Harbor came after an “extensive evaluation of more than 12 site options and four school re-programming alternatives by the mold task force and key city and Board of Education departments,” according to the release.
The building “met all of the critical criteria and was determined to be the optimal location. In addition to safety and security, as well as the ability for the site owner to complete the necessary renovation work in an incredibly short time frame, other factors considered were the importance of keeping the school community together in Stamford, transportation and traffic implications, IT requirements and the feasibility of providing food service,” the release said.
Mike Handler, Stamford’s director of operations and a member of the mold task force, declined to address the move before the emergency meeting.
He said earlier this week that a prospective location will be leased for at least six months with an option of extending it up to two years to serve as a “swing space” if needed by other schools.
The students on Wednesday began a series of field trips that will continue Thursday and Friday to the Stamford Museum and Nature Center, the Bartlett Arboretum and the Stamford Historical Society.
Westover students will begin their day on Tuesday at Chelsea Piers before being bused to their new home in the South End for classes in the afternoon.
email@example.com; 203-964-2263; @bglytton