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School’s out forever for 23 Philadelphia public schools, part 2

6/1/2013 | Real Estate Blog

We are continuing our discussion from our last post about the challenges ahead for the Philadelphia School District and the 23 school buildings the district will close over the summer. A number of factors drove the decisions, including population loss in the district, competition from charter schools, funding shortfalls and conditions of the sites themselves.

The buildings represent a tremendous development opportunity for the city, but any plan will need the buy-in of the community surrounding each site. That includes businesses and residents, some of whom have already put a good deal of energy into trying to save the school.

A group of students at the University of Pennsylvania School of Design recently presented their recommendations on how to proceed. The report, New Life for Old Schools, puts particular emphasis on community involvement in the process and lays out a framework for how to plan for each site.

The students recommend that the schools be broken into three tiers. As we said in our last post, the first tier would be the schools that can be sold immediately. The second tier would be the buildings that could sell but that would be more likely to sell if buyers had access to incentive packages sponsored by the city.

Those packages should be tailored to the school reuse program, the report continues. A task force should create financing deals which will not only attract purchasers but will also help to insure that the sites are developed in ways that are appropriate for the surrounding communities.

We’ll finish this up in our next post.

Source: NBC 10 Philadelphia, “Students Develop Model for Managing Closed School Buildings,” Jared Brey, May 24, 2013