Back to the future: Shalhevet will relocate to JCC during construction on new building

Move will hopefully speed construction, but parking, lockers and office space remain questions.

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Back to the future: Shalhevet will relocate to JCC during construction on new building

ANSWERS: The pool will be off-limits, but the gym will be available 20 hours per week for PE during school hours.

ANSWERS: The pool will be off-limits, but the gym will be available 20 hours per week for PE during school hours.

BP Photo by Goldie Fields

ANSWERS: The pool will be off-limits, but the gym will be available 20 hours per week for PE during school hours.

BP Photo by Goldie Fields

BP Photo by Goldie Fields

ANSWERS: The pool will be off-limits, but the gym will be available 20 hours per week for PE during school hours.

Eric Bazak, Alexa Fishman, Noah Rothman, Features Editor, Community Editor, Torah Editor

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UPDATED MAY 21 — Going backwards to go forward, Shalhevet plans to relocate to the Westside Jewish Community Center for the 2014-2015 school year while its new building is under construction, school officials announced April 30. The start of school next fall will be delayed one week, to Sept. 2, to make time to move and prepare.

The JCC was Shalhevet’s original location and its home for seven years, from 1992 until 1999. Located walking distance from Shalhevet about two blocks to the east on Olympic Boulevard, it also has been the site of Firehawk home games in basketball and volleyball.

Shalhevet founder Dr. Jerry Friedman was among those who appreciated the irony.

“It’s an interesting thing that we began there, but now it’s a transition until we go back to the other new building, so I do think it is very exciting,” Dr. Friedman said in an interview.

Clearing of asbestos and other chemicals from the site began May 1 and demolition is expected to start in early June on the northern third of Shalhevet’s lot, which the school vacated last summer expecting construction to start sooner. Escrow on the sale of the property closed April 17.

According to Head of School Rabbi Ari Segal, the point of moving out is to let construction proceed more quickly and without as much disruption – in the form of either noise or dust — to students and school activities next year.

“What we are hoping is that moving off the site will allow the contractors to do whatever kind of work they need to do and to do it at whatever time works best for them,” Rabbi Segal said in an email to the Boiling Point. “Until now, we had spoken with them about limiting loud work to certain hours.”

He said other locations were considered but the JCC was the best, with the right number of classrooms, good access to neighborhoods where students live, and some useful amenities.

Moving will also mean that Alliance Residential – new owner of the southern part of the property, where school is operating now – can start construction much sooner on apartment and retail buildings it plans for Fairfax and Orange Grove avenues and San Vicente Boulevard.

As students and faculty adjusted to the news, Rabbi Segal shared information about through community-wide e-mails and, on May 15, a question-and-answer session at Town Hall.

At Town Hall, he said faculty office space, staff and student parking and lockers at the JCC were problems yet to be solved.

He said Shalhevet would probably not have access to the JCC’s swimming pool, but it would be able to use its gym 20 hours per week before 3 pm. That won’t help sports teams find after-school practice space – a perrenial problem that the new building’s gym will help solve — but could provide a needed space for P.E.

“For games after school, we will have the same relationship with the JCC as we have this year,” Rabbi Segal said – meaning Shalhevet competes with YULA and other community groups for time on the courts.

Co-curriculars will meet as they do now except for on Wednesdays, when the JCC is not available until after 6, he said, and the Drama department will be able to use the building’s auditorium as well.

The JCC has 14 classrooms, one more than the 13 minimum that Shalhevet needs, Rabbi Segal told Town Hall. This year, Shalhevet only needed 12 classrooms, but student enrollment is expected to increase by 18 students to to 180 next year.

Rabbi Segal told the Q and A session there will only be 60 lockers next year, enough for a third of students.  He said students would hopefully rely on their iPads for textbooks rather than hardcover copies, and preschool-type cubbies might also be available.

“They don’t want lockers in the JCC,” Rabbi Segal said.

Teacher and student parking will be in the multi-story Midway Hospital lot, which is a block west and across Olympic Boulevard from the JCC. Though the JCC has 24-hour security there would not be any supervision for students walking to the multi-story lot late at night.

“It would not be feasible to walk kids,” Rabbi Segal said. He said he would look for a solution.

There will also be no official science lab at the JCC, so lab-based classes will use science kits for the year, he said. And teachers, who will again share classrooms with one another, will not have offices to use when not teaching.

But Rabbi Segal said the cost of renting the JCC was being covered by Alliance Residential.

“Alliance is very happy for us to vacate,” Rabbi Segal said at Town Hall. “If we leave, Alliance can build early,” lowering costs.

“We said to them, if they would pay us to leave, we made sure that what they would pay us is worth our expenses… They are paying us a 30 to 40 percent premium.”

That premium, he said, would offset some of the money the school must borrow to finish construction on the new, three-story building, which it hopes to occupy by the end of next school year.

Alliance paid $14.2 million for the Shalhevet property. Escrow closed April 17.

Rabbi Segal said the opening of school next year was being delayed because Shalhevet cant start moving in until after JCC summer camp is finished.

“I would say the vast majority of parents have been pleased,” Rabbi Segal said. “I am sure there are some who have quietly expressed concerns at Shabbat tables but that is a minority. People recognize the value of this move for the school and students and are willing to overlook any challenges that may accompany the temporary relocation.”

Student reaction to the news was varied.

I dont want it to be there,” said junior Rachel Glouberman. “I dont know how this going to work because there is stuff going on there like a pool and preschool.”

Sophomore Joe Schnitzer was both concerned and looking forward to the move.

” I’m a little apprehensive about the move,” Joe said. I’m scared about what is going to come, but I’m looking forward for what is going to change.”

Junior Josh Goldner also worried about the JCCs other uses.

“Were just going to need to avoid the five-year-olds and the swimming pools,” said Josh in a Facebook posting after the decisions were announced.

Other locations, one in Koreatown and another next to YULA girls, were rejected, mostly for being too costly or too far.



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