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Eleven vacant public schools to become a mix of residential and commercial spaces

Communications Technology High

Abigail Vare Elementary School

The ongoing financial woes of the Philadelphia School District have been a constant presence the local media recently. Two weeks ago, it was the city's School Reform Commission (SRC) that stole headlines -- an unexpected September 18 announcement reveled that the SRC had approved the sale of 11 vacant public school buildings throughout the city, including Germantown High School.      
The City had help from the Philadelphia Industrial Development Corporation (PIDC) in structuring the 11 deals, which will bring in a total of $19.3 million. Yet after the properties close -- a process that is expected to be completed sometime in early 2015 -- it is projected that closing costs and other associated fees will leave the City with a net revenue of only some $2 million.
According to The Philadelphia Inquirer, the Philadelphia Housing Authority (PHA) will be purchasing four of the vacant schools -- Communications Technology High, Pepper Middle School, John Reynolds Elementary and Rudolph Walton Elementary -- for $3 million each. The PHA says it plans to tear down two of those schools and replace them with a mix of residential and commercial units. One of the buildings will become a residential facility for senior citizens.  
Five of the buildings, including Germantown High and Carroll Charles High, will be sold to the Bethesda, Md.-based Concordia Group, a residential and commercial developer that operates largely in the Washington, D.C. area. Two of the schools going to Concordia -- which will pay $6.8 million for its buildings -- will also become residential buildings of some sort.
And in South Philadelphia, the Edward W. Bok Technical High School building was purchased for $2.1 million by Scout Ltd. LLCPlans are reportedly underway for a mixed-use project featuring a maker-style co-working space, a number of live-work units, and ground-floor retail.

Writer: Dan Eldridge
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