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Suggestions for School Building Reuse: Senior Centers & Kombucha Farms

PennDesign students created a report outlining a process for dealing with Philly's 32 vacant school buildings, and suggested a few plans to return the structures to active use. Ideas ranged from expected and pragmatic (senior centers, recreation halls, nonprofit headquarters,) to speculative and particular (they want to turn Sheridan West Academy into a microdistillery/kombucha brewery/aquaponic farm.)

The report recommended that the city split school buildings into three groups: one for properties that will sell easily, the second for properties that might be marketable if packaged with special incentives, and a third which would be unlikely to ever sell (and therefore should be turned into parks or offered to nonprofits for a nominal fee.)

Though the report does include very specific suggestions for the sites, the students say they wanted to spark inspiration, rather than limit possible uses for vacant schools:
These site case studies should be considered illustrative rather than prescriptive or in any way restrictive: it is our deeply-held conviction that all closed schools should be reused in such a way as to balance market- and community-driven concerns while advancing citywide goals—not to serve the particular agenda of any group or lobby.
· PennDesign students develop a model for managing closed school buildings [Plan Philly]