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EXCLUSIVE: Old 86th Street Nathan’s site will become a school

Study your buns off – the 86th Street Nathan’s is slated to become a school.

The nearly 20,000-square-foot property at 650 86th Street that had been an outpost of the fast food giant for more than four decades will become a brand new, 550-seat middle school, Councilmember Justin Brannan told this paper exclusively.

News of the school comes on the heels of the franchise’s closure of its storied location on the border of Bay Ridge and Dyker Heights on Jan. 6.

The site had been a Nathan’s since the late ‘70s, before which it was a fast food burger chain named Wetson’s; prior to that, it was Mitchell’s Drive-In. Its most recent iteration also included an Arthur Treacher’s, which specializes in fast food fish and chips, and which closed as well.

The eateries’ closing marked the end of an era in Bay Ridge and Dyker Heights though, school stakeholders claim, it also marked the start of a new one.

“Nobody beats District 20 schools and, because of that, it is one of the most overcrowded school districts in the entire city,” said Brannan. “I wake up every day thinking about where can we build new schools. We also desperately needed a brand new middle school and that’s what we’re going to get.”

District 20 – which encompasses Bay Ridge, Dyker Heights and portions of Sunset Park and Boro Park – is among the city’s most overcrowded, with a shortfall of nearly 11,000 seats.

“This is just the beginning and I am so excited to involve the community and all stakeholders along the way as we go through the visioning process,” added Brannan, lending thanks to the School Construction Authority. “This is a big day for our community.”

New York Building Congress President and CEO Carlo Scissura, a southern Brooklyn native, concurred. “I said 20 years ago, when I got elected to the school board in District 20, I will work hard – and we should all work hard – on getting a new middle school for Bay Ridge,” he told this paper. “You have [J.H.S. 227 Edward B.] Shallow for Bensonhurst, you have [I.S. 187] Christa McAuliffe in Dyker Heights and then you’ve got a couple of K through 8’s in Bay Ridge.

“Bay Ridge has never had its own middle school,” Scissura went on, “and I am thrilled beyond belief about this one. This is the best news for the community.”

Scissura said he worked closely with Brannan – who ran for office on the promise that he would work to secure a new school for his district within his first term – on bringing the project to life.

The space was sold in late October to “660 86 LLC,” according to the sale’s Acquisition of Assets, with sources connecting that to Efthimios Zisimopoulos, a.k.a. Tim Ziss, of Allied Properties.

“Ziss,” a source told this paper back then, “has been buying up whatever’s big and becomes available in Bay Ridge for quite some time.”

News of the transaction raised questions of its replacement as pre-tax gross proceeds of the sale of the significantly underbuilt lot came in at $12.25 million. Because of the price as well as potential to build big at the site, concerns were expressed at the time that the site — whose impending sale by Nathan’s this paper broke in June — could be developed as market rate condos.

“I’m looking forward to breaking ground,” Scissura said.

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