Grace Church School Will Take Over Village Voice Offices as $12 Million Buildout Continues

Photos: Melvin Felix

Across the street from where a dorm will rise at 35 Cooper Square, there’s more big news: Grace Church School will take over the Village Voice’s offices next year.

During a tour of the school’s new state-of-the-art high school building at 46 Cooper Square, headmaster George Davison revealed this morning that the school will also move into the third floor of the adjacent building at 36 Cooper Square once the Voice’s lease expires there next year.

Tony Ortega, the Voice’s editor-in-chief, confirmed the embattled weekly’s impending departure. “Thankfully we’ll be leaving this dump in the spring, and we’ll be taking the letters on the outside of the building with us,” he wrote in an e-mail.

When the Voice moved to 36 Cooper Square in 1991, the building’s owner, Leonard Stern, also owned the alternative paper. Mr. Ortega pointed out that things changed after Stern Publishing sold the Voice. “Since 2000 the Voice has just been a renter here, and if you’ve been in our offices you know they’ve seen better days,” he said. “We’re really looking forward to going to our new home.”

Grace Church HS and Village Voice buildingsStephen Rex Brown The new high school at 46 Cooper Square (right)
aims to expand into the Voice’s office space in
36 Cooper Square (left).

Mr. Ortega couldn’t say where, exactly, the company was looking. “We’re looking at a few different offices,” he wrote, “not sure that we’ve settled on a new place yet.”

For now, Grace Church School’s high school division is contained to about 60,000 square feet spanning the first two floors and the lower level of 46 Cooper Square. That building is also owned by Mr. Stern’s Hartz Group, which started as a canary-selling business and later as a pet product supplier headquartered in the Voice building in the 1930s.

The design and build-out of the former Hartz factory building at 46 Cooper Square has cost $12 million to date, according to Mr. Davison, owing in part to architectural touches such as the nine skylights that will bring natural lighting into classrooms.

There will be plenty of artificial lighting in the classes as well: all incoming students will be required to own iPads (“powerful learning tools,” according to Mr. Davison). And they may well end up reading the Voice on those tablets: their “co-curricular activities” will include courses on subjects such as media literacy and current events, according to a mock curriculum.

As the high school expands from a single ninth grade class, which starts in a little over two weeks, to include tenth and eleventh grades as well, it will also add new facilities. Next year, the 20,000-square-foot third floor will be home to music classrooms, as well as a dance studio. By the summer of 2017, the school hopes to take over the building’s fourth floor – currently occupied by two non-profits – and convert the space into a gymnasium.

The dramatic changes will be part of an ongoing transformation of the Cooper Square area.

Update | 4:15 p.m. The floor plans below show how the third and fourth floors of 36 Cooper Square and 46 Cooper Square will be utilized. The Voice’s offices will be replaced by the lower level of a black box theater.

plansMelvin Felix