State gives Berean keys to a tenant

The Berean Institute along the 1900 blook of Girard Ave. on Monday, July 14, 2008. Yong Kim / Philadelphia Daily News
The Berean Institute along the 1900 blook of Girard Ave. on Monday, July 14, 2008. Yong Kim / Philadelphia Daily News
Posted: September 13, 2012

AFTER ordering Berean Institute to vacate its building, the state has handed over the keys to one of the tenants at the troubled historic school.

ABO Haven, a job-training organization, now has permission to operate at the building, on Girard Avenue near 19th Street, as the primary tenant, Troy Thompson, a spokesman for the Department of General Services, said Tuesday.

ABO Haven moved into the building last summer and recently took Berean to court in a dispute over utilities.

In court last month, Larry Farmbry, a volunteer at Berean, agreed to a plan to pay an overdue $40,000 water bill. But a few days later, both the electricity and gas were shut off because Peco and Philadelphia Gas Works each said there was no record of service there.

On Tuesday, ABO Haven President Argo L. Simpkins said she wanted to continue the legacy of Berean as created by Rev. Matthew Anderson, who founded the school in 1899 as a vocational-training program for African-Americans.

Thompson also said that the state is considering extending the deadline for Berean to vacate the building. A Sept. 6 letter from the state had ordered Berean out by this Friday but Thompson said that Berean may get 30 days to leave, out of concern for students in its cosmetology and barbering classes. He said students should "not be penalized" by Berean's "actions and inactions."

Berean officials declined to comment.

Simpkins said that members of the Mathematics, Civics and Sciences Charter School's boys basketball team were practicing in the gym Tuesday. Berean President Lorraine Poole-Naranjo had begun leasing space to the charter school and to Liberti Church.

But the eviction letter said that Berean wasn't authorized to lease space, and that Berean had not paid rent to the state for six years.

On Monday, Veronica Joyner, founder of the charter school leasing space at Berean, said that she used to pay $600 a month to use the gym for the first two years.

Just before the current school year, however, Farmbry doubled the rent to $1,200 a month. "That was negotiated down," Joyner said. "He wanted to charge us $1,800."

Last week, as the state was sending out its eviction letter, Joyner said that Poole-Naranjo was sending texts asking for the September rent payment.


 

comments powered by Disqus
|
|
|
|
|