The hulking Gothic building at 47th and Walnut streets that used to be West Philadelphia High School is now emptied of the sounds of lockers slamming, bells ringing and teenage chatter in the hallways. All of that's moved to a much more modern facility at 49th and Chestnut, where the Philadelphia School District is trying to bring the high school out of its academic and behavioral doldrums.
Meanwhile—as with so many other buildings in the district—the fate of the once-beautiful original West Philly High—designed by Philadelphia schools architect Henry deCourcy Richards—remains unclear, but tomorrow the School District of Philadelphia is holding a community meeting (info below) to get input on a few different ideas, which seem to be variations on the same theme: mixed use in we'll-see major.
This lovely community gathering is due, in part, to the District's adaptive reuse plan, which was created to improve what used to be a kind of messy process. At the time it was drafted, Kerkstra wrote:
In theory, the new policy will take community interests into account and give something of an advantage to would-be educational and non-profit purchasers, such as a charter school or community development corporation. ...rumors are already swirling of potential reuses for the grand old building, everything from condos, to apartments, to mixed-use, to senior housing. Or maybe just the mixed-use part. West Philly City Councilwoman Jannie Blackwell told education reporter Benjamin Herold that the District's choices right now are between private developers. "What I believe will happen is that we'll end up with mixed use on the first floor and then residential stuff above it."
· School District nearing sale of old West Philly High, other vacant buildings [Public School Notebook]
· Changes to school facilities: What happens to the old West Philly High? [Notebook/PlanPhilly]