On Sunday, September 10, the Greek School of Plato broke ground on its new community center, 670 92nd Street, the home stretch in an expansion that’s been more than three years in the making.
Until now, the Greek School – an educational and cultural organization that, since its inception in 1977, has passionately promoted Hellenic heritage in Brooklyn through language instruction and arts programming – has been “homeless,” according to the president of its school board and chairperson of the construction committee Spiro Geroulanos.
“We rent space currently for our students,” he said, “so this has been a dream that we’ve had for a long time, to have a home of our own.”
Plato’s after-school program and weekend school had at one time operated out of the site of the expansion which, come completion, will serve a dual role as both the sole site of the Greek School and as a community center for other non-profits and groups throughout the borough to utilize.
The total square footage of the coming building, Geroulanos said, is approximately 14,000 square feet. It will include a basement plus three stories, a recreational roof and a multi-purpose cellar that can be transformed into everything from a cafeteria to a theater and anything else that “requires large open space.”
Furthermore, the building – to be handicapped-accessible throughout – will also contain two Universal Pre-K classrooms, on top of 12 others, one of which, Geroulanos said, will also double as a fully functioning library.
“The building is being built green with attention to energy efficiency,” he added.
Plans for a more grandiose expansion were first brought to Community Board 10 at its November, 2014 general meeting, where they faced criticism from neighbors who were wary of the original height and size (four and a half stories) of the proposed addition. However, the board – whose vote was advisory only – ultimately green-lighted the plans unanimously, with minor stipulations.
Designs then went to the city’s Board of Standards and Appeals (BSA), after which, Geroulanos explained, developers reworked the plans better to please both parties.
“We made changes for the community board and then for the BSA,” he said, “but we’re so excited about what we’re able to do.”
The groundbreaking began with a blessing by Father Damaskinos Ganas and Father Melitios Bougas, and commenced with greetings from local elected officials and community members. Those in attendance included State Senator Marty Golden, Assemblymembers Peter Abbate and Pamela Harris, and Councilmember Vincent Gentile.
Nicholas Chamberas, representing Assemblymember Nicole Malliotakis, and Andrew Gounardes, representing Borough President Eric Adams, were also on hand to wish the Greek School well.
Kirk Tzanides, a former chair of CB10, served as master of ceremonies for the occasion. He thanked those who have supported the school’s “noble cause” for “joining the immortal Spartans as today’s defenders of Thermopylae.”
“By constructing this new building, we will be ensuring that Plato will serve as a beacon for this community and for all families for decades to come,” said Geroulanos at the event.
According to school officials, fundraising has been crucial in keeping the dream alive. Early donations, pledges and other fundraising efforts have totaled $2,500,000 towards an ultimate goal of $5,300,000.
The project’s grand benefactor, Bob Geroulanos, was thanked tirelessly throughout the groundbreaking for his lead donation of $1 million to the revamp.