City of Philadelphia , School District to move forward on council’s vacant schools disposition strategy
Council to fulfill pledge of $50 million to School District of Philadelphia
The City of Philadelphia and School District of Philadelphia (SDP) on Wednesday announced they will proceed with a strategy to market and sell vacant SDP properties following an up-front payment of $50 million to the schools.
The transfer of $50 million to the City’s Finance Department fulfills a request made by the District to the City of Philadelphia on Aug. 8, 2013, for emergency funding in order to begin the 2013-2014 school year on schedule.
“I’d like to thank the legal, finance and development staff of City Council for diligently working on this proposal in response to the District’s urgent call for $50 million. I also thank the members of City Council who’ve brought interested parties to the table to discuss purchase and repurposing opportunities for vacant school buildings,” Council President Darrell L. Clarke (5th District) said.
“Interest in putting these empty buildings back to productive use has dramatically increased since last summer, to the point where multiple entities have made offers for the District’s entire portfolio of unused properties,” Council President Clarke continued. “City Council stands poised and ready to work with the School District and affected communities in putting what in some cases are blighted properties back to residential or commercial use.”
The City of Philadelphia will take on the task of marketing and selling buildings on the School District’s behalf in an open and transparent process that also will solicit community input.
“Today is a win for Philadelphia’s public school children,” said Councilwoman Jannie L. Blackwell (3rd District), chair of Council’s Committee on Education. “It is time to turn our attention to finding long-term funding solutions for Philadelphia public schools and have a candid conversation about the District’s educational and performance challenges.”
“The good news is that the School District will get the $50 million they need to get through June. However, we should avoid a situation where only the best properties -- Grade A properties -- are sold and we’re still left with a glut of facilities falling into disrepair and decay in our neighborhoods,” said Majority Leader Curtis Jones, Jr. (4th District).
“Beeber-Wynnefield School Annex in my district has been empty for more than a decade and has been largely neglected by the School District and the City. Just this month, there was a fire on site,” Councilman Jones continued. “Allowing these buildings to sit empty and neglected for years on end is unfair to communities and bad for our City’s economy. Our disposition process should be structured to aggressively market Grade A properties along with Grade B and C properties to viable buyers.”
“I have been pleasantly surprised by the level of interest in vacant school buildings in my district,” Councilman Mark Squilla (1st District) said. “I know that my constituents want the City and School District to get these buildings re-occupied and back on the tax rolls as efficiently as possible. I look forward to working with the developers and the neighbors to re-purpose the school buildings so that the new occupants add to the community in a positive way.”
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