The newest private school in Manhattan is perhaps the richest in real estate. It cost $75 million to transform a former grocery warehouse in Chelsea into Avenues – a 215,000 sq. ft. campus for pre-K to 9th grade students. One of the school’s ten floors includes a 20,000 sq. ft. dining room (aka cafeteria) that overlooks the chic neighborhood’s beloved linear park, The High Line. Such design amenities including to-die-for 20 ft. tall ceilings are reflected in tuition: $40k/year. Each child will be supplied a laptop/tablet and learn Mandarin and Spanish.
Founders of the charter education empire Edison Schools – Benno Schmidt and Chris Whittle – are the masterminds behind Avenues. They’re hiring teachers from New England’s finest boarding schools including Phillips Exeter, Andover, Choate, and Hotchkiss—so well-to-do Manhattan moms don’t have to send their kids away. About 5,000 applications were received for the 1,320 spots. Daughter of Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes, Suri (6), is Avenues’ first star pupil. To get there she may walk—if she’s allowed—right past the public (and prestigious) P.S. 33 (aka Chelsea Prep) on Ninth Avenue, which 350 students who live in that desirable neighborhood attend for free, speaking Mandarin only when they chose—or if they’re out for lunch. As with most Manhattan grammar schools (private and public), there are waiting lists for both. The population of children under age 5 in Manhattan has risen 32% in five years. According to NYC census figures, wealthy white families are driving that growth. Branding experts have made sure the new school isn’t called Streets, the perpendicular option. Being from the New York streets isn’t so desirable these days, lacking even the gritty glamour it used to have. Being from Avenues, however, is meant to brand one positively for life.