Hatching a plan to prevent shuttered Philly schools from turning to blight
by Elizabeth Fiedler for NewsWorks
Philadelphia is trying to find new life for vacant school buildings or those that soon will be empty.
With 24 schools slated to close, a study by the University of Pennsylvania's School of Design looked at ways to reuse the structures.
Harris Steinberg said the worry is that the neighborhoods losing the schools will get more blight once the buildings are empty. Steinberg is the executive director of Penn Praxis, the clinical consulting arm of the School of Design at Penn.
"The majority of the sites really don't have that kind of strong market," he said. "Many are in transitional or weak markets, like Germantown, and some are in areas of the city that really don't have a high market value."
Steinberg said that in the case of Fairhill School in North Philadelphia, "it's in the middle of a very strong Hispanic community, which has considerable strengths in terms of social capital as well as kind of civic infrastructure." Steinberg said it's also a low-income part of the city without many recreational amenities, but a good idea was brainstormed.