In W. Phila., not much is revealed on plans for Wilson Elementary

Posted: February 07, 2014

RESIDENTS expressed frustration about a lack of detail in the possible sale of Alexander Wilson Elementary School during an informational meeting last night.

Wilson, at 46th Street and Woodland Avenue in West Philadelphia, was one of 23 schools closed last year. A "Request for Qualifications" was issued in November, and the deadline for a second round of offers was Monday.

More than one offer has been made, district officials said, but they declined to say how many or to name any of the interested parties. They said that each proposal included a mix of residential and retail use.

"The . . . exterior of the structure . . . would be maintained and then there would be some mix of residential use and a proposed retail use, again all contingent on the zoning process," Chief operating officer Fran Burns told about 12 area residents in the auditorium of Henry C. Lea Elementary School, at 47th and Locust streets.

During the sometimes-tense meeting, Burns said an evaluation committee reviewed the offers based on the proposed use, the buyer's previous experience completing similar projects, the buyer's capacity to complete the purchase, and the price and time frame for closing on a sale.

The committee is interviewing potential buyers and will begin negotiating a sale agreement with the selected buyer. The buyer then will have a period of due diligence to investigate the property. The committee will finalize a sales recommendation, and once the offer is finalized, district staff will bring it to Superintendent William Hite and the School Reform Commission for approval.

Several community members questioned the process.

"I'm a little frustrated right now at how little power it seems that I have or little interest there might be in what the effect is going to be on me and my neighbors," one person said.

Many urged the district to implement conditions requiring local labor. Some said they would prefer Wilson to remain a school, but Burns said none of the offers was for that purpose.

District officials did not respond to speculation that the proposals were for University of Pennsylvania student housing. Burns said the University of the Sciences - whose main campus is behind Wilson - had made an offer, but she declined to say if the university was a finalist.

The district would like to close the sale by June, Burns said. The earliest the SRC could vote on a resolution would be Feb. 20.

Informational meetings are scheduled next week for Harrison Elementary, Drew Elementary, Shaw Middle School, University City High School and the Walnut Center.


On Twitter: @ChroniclesofSol

comments powered by Disqus
|
|
|
|
|