After decades of vacancy, the iconic courthouse will become the educational home for hundreds of Bronx students receiving free, world-class preparation for college

BRONX, NY —  Today, Success Academy unveiled plans to transform the historic Bronx Borough Courthouse in Melrose — vacant for nearly 40 years — into a new, world-class high school.

Success Academy High School of the Liberal Arts – Bronx will open in August 2018 and grow to serve about 1,200 students, providing them a much-needed pipeline to college. Currently, only 1 in 7 Bronx students of color graduates on time and prepared for college-level work. With their futures compromised by broken schools, more than a third of 16 to 24-year-olds in the South Bronx neither work nor attend school — among the highest rates in the nation.

In addition to addressing a deep need for more great schools, the project will reinvigorate a landmark building and provide more momentum to the resurgence of the South Bronx. Success has retained Biber Architects and structural engineers from Robert Silman Associates, who completed the preservation of the Jefferson Memorial in Washington, D.C., to restore the historic elements of the building and reimagine the interior space as a sophisticated collegiate high school. The school will be outfitted with a cutting-edge fabrication lab for science and computer programming, modern gallery spaces for displaying student work, and a college-style lecture hall.


Significant funding for the project was provided by noted philanthropists Jenny and John Paulson and the Paulson Family Foundation. Philanthropy will fund renovations, technology, and other startup costs.

”It is very exciting to see this beautiful building brought back to life as a great Success Academy high school,” said financier John Paulson. “We are enormously proud to be investing in the future of thousands of young people who will go on to succeed in college and in life.”

Success will lease the nine story, 113,000-square-foot building from Liberty Square Realty, which purchased the property in 1998 and has already invested in structural improvements while seeking a community-based tenant. The agreement was reached with the help of counsel Bruce D. Saber and senior attorney Alex C. Hallett of the law firm Arnold & Porter Kaye Scholer, who provided pro bono counsel on behalf of Success.

“I am proud to be partnering with an organization like Success Academy. I know they will take the same level of pride and respect in this building as I have. They will not only preserve this historic landmark, but also restore and revitalize the community with a modern, world-class center for learning,” said Henry Weinstein, owner with Benjamin Klein of Liberty Square. “Henry and I have waited a long time to find a worthy tenant. We said no to many inquiries because it had to be an appropriate use for such a beautiful structure,” added Ben.

png;base6440ed64acfeddfec3Six of the network’s elementary and middle schools are located in the Bronx, and at these schools, 96% of children passed the state math exam in 2016 and 82% passed English. About 75% of Success students are economically disadvantaged, and 9% are homeless, yet they outperformed students in Scarsdale, where the median family income is $208,414. More than 6,400 Bronx children applied for a seat at Success in 2016-17.

“Forty years ago, this building housed prisoners waiting for trial,” said Success CEO Eva Moskowitz. “That space will be transformed into beautiful, modern classrooms and a historic house of learning. Success is quite literally transforming the school-to-prison pipeline to a school-to-college-and-prosperity pipeline.”


A national historic landmark, the Old Bronx Borough Courthouse was built between 1905 and 1914. Towering over new shops and factories, the iconic building contained three courtrooms, a coroner’s office, and a jail in the basement. It played host to numerous famous trials – including that of anarchist gangsters who kidnapped a local widow. But in the 1930s, the city relocated most services in the building to a larger facility – beginning a long period of decline. The last tenant, a criminal court, left in 1978. Although the building achieved landmark status at both the local and national levels, it served as nothing but an improvised pigeon coop for years.   

After a private developer bought the site at a 1996 auction, but failed to make changes, a second auction was held in 1998. Liberty Square Realty purchased the property and completed renovations that paved the way for a rebirth.  


Founded in 2006, Success Academy Charter Schools are free public K through 12 schools open to all children in the state through a random lottery. With 41 schools across Brooklyn, the Bronx, Manhattan, and Queens, Success Academy enrolls 14,000 students, primarily low-income children of color in disadvantaged neighborhoods: 74% of students receive free or reduced-price lunch, 95% are children of color, 15% are children with disabilities, and 8.5% are English language learners. Ranked in the top 0.3% in math and the top 1.5% in English among all New York State schools on 2016 state proficiency tests, Success Academy schools received more than 20,000 applications for about 3,000 open seats this year.

For more information about Success Academy, go to and

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