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School’s out forever for 23 Philadelphia public schools, part 3

6/3/2013 | Real Estate Blog

This post will conclude our discussion about the Philadelphia School District’s plans to sell, repurpose or raze some 23 school buildings. In many cases, residents and businesses surrounding the shuttered sites have fought hard to keep the schools open. A combination of economics, dwindling population and deteriorating sites, though, have forced the district to close the buildings and move on.

As we said in our last two posts, moving on will require more input from the community. Any plan for a site must be considerate of the people and companies that call the neighborhood home. And that is one thing that a group of University of Pennsylvania School of Design students as well as district and city officials endorse.

A report presented to by the students to the district recommends that the buildings be categorized into three tiers. The first and second tier sites would be sold for development. The students suggest that the sites could be repurposed, for example, as senior housing or neighborhood food hubs.

The lowest tier would be the sites that have a slim chance of selling at all. The students suggest these sites be slated for demolition or perhaps sold to nonprofits for nominal amounts. Again, the community’s interests would help shape the decision.

Demolition could provide unique development opportunities for the city. These sites could be developed into parks, for instance, adding much-needed green space in some of the affected areas. The entire portfolio of schools closed adds up to 101 acres of land.

The students felt, too, that it was imperative that the city take over the buildings in tiers 2 and 3 from the school district. The city is in a better position to manage the sites and the sales than the district, which should concentrate on improving the school sites that remain open.

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