U. of Sciences buys Alexander Wilson School building for student housing

October 27, 2014

AlexanderWilsonSchoolThe University of the Sciences (USP) has acquired the former Alexander Wilson School at 46th and Woodland and plans to turn it into student housing.

USP paid a reported $2 million for the 1.03-acre parcel that borders its campus and includes the three story school building, which the School District of Philadelphia closed along with nearly two dozen other public schools in 2013. The purchase, which was approved at the October 16 School Reform Commission meeting, follows a long bid process that included interest from West Philly based developers Orens Brothers.

The university will turn the site into student housing and student-focused retail, according to Helen Giles-Gee, USP’s president.

“The location of the Wilson School adjacent to the [USP] campus is a strategic one for our university and one that we hope will provide both student housing and retail that makes sense for the community and for us,” Giles-Gee said in a statement. “Though we understand that no community wants to lose its neighborhood school, we hope to work closely with area residents as we develop our plans for the site.”

Early last spring Orens Brothers seemed to have locked up the purchase of the Wilson building for $4.6 million, but the District later asked for clarification of the bids and USP emerged as the front runner.

The Wilson sale follows the sale of the old West Philadelphia High School (47th and Walnut), which will be converted to residential units.

In September, the SRC lowered the sale price of the old West Philly High by $900,000 to $5.1 million to compensate for “design inefficiencies” in the building, which was constructed in 1912. The developer, WPHS Venture Partners, told the SRC that it had to lower the number of units it could build from 300 to about 250, prompting a request to the SRC for a price reduction.

We will keep you updated on the development of these two buildings as they go through the zoning and public comment phases.

18 Comments For This Post

  1. Ditch MD Says:

    That’s a great acquisition for USP. Glad it went through for them.

  2. Shawna19143 Says:

    Sad our neighborhood school was closed to make way for those who will graduate and move out of the city. And this school was performing well and had parents who were involved.

  3. Jon Says:

    It wasn’t closed to make way for anybody. The closing is sad, but don’t conflate the causes of its closing with any later uses to which the building may be put.

  4. Strongforu Says:

    What about the children?

  5. Kareem 46 and Woodland Says:

    It’s the first step in taking over a community and moving out residents that has been in this community for more than 75yrs

  6. Neighbor of School Says:

    This is our neighborhood that we built. We made it. You didn’t care about it, but now you want it. If you can’t see whats going on here — they are closing an establishment of education and advancement for black children to make room for the same for white children. Now how can you tell me thats not whats going on with a straight face. Its clear there is a war on the minds of young black children — let’s keep them dumb. By their fruits ye shall know thee.

  7. Jon Says:

    You’re right. This is our neighborhood. We built it and we made it. University of the Sciences has no right to be in the neighborhood. How long have they been here anyway?

  8. Gretchen Says:

    University of the Sciences, formerly Philadelphia College of Pharmacy, has been around since 1821. While its obviously expanded over the years it has been a crutial element of west Philadelphia for generations. Its alumni primarily live and work in Philadelphia and New Jersey. In fact, I might argue they had a pretty big hand in building the neighborhood long before you were there and have invested a lot into making it safer.

    More importantly, they didn’t close the school. The University is ensuring the building doesn’t lay vacant and is repurposing it to being both retail and more housing to the neighborhood, that’s usually considered a good thing.

  9. 1818181hna Says:

    do yal actually live in the neighborhood or did you somehow not notice that its been vacant for at least a year??

  10. Michael Wilks Says:

    Hell yeah we live in the neighborhood, how can closing a SCHOOL and making retail shops and housing be good for any neighborhood. That’s fools gold and anyone who thinks that this is good for the neighborhood has no ideal what the neighborhood is about or cares about the children

  11. Arwin Says:

    The people who closed the school and the people who are developing the student housing are two completely different groups of people. Go vote on November 4th if you’re interested in striking back against the school-closers.

  12. brendancalling Says:

    You’re blaming the wrong people and the wrong reasons for the school closure. It goes straight to Tom Corbett in Harrisburg, who deliberately cut education funding statewide, with enormous impact on Philadelphia. This is not about “moving people out of the neighborhood” or “closing an establishment of education and advancement for black children to make room for the same for white children”.

    It’s because Tom Corbett cut the budget for education statewide, and Philly’s already-strapped district couldn’t afford to keep the school open:

  13. Michael Wilks Says:

    Ok, so come on you don’t think there is a link between politics and big business. Close down as many schools and black owned business for the purpose of gentrification

  14. Philly jawn Says:

    While gentrification is a valid issue, and it sucks for the kids that went to this school, you have to be realistic and realize that the school district’s finances have been run into the ground (with no help from former superintendent arlene ackerman). The city’s population dropped by a third over 50 years and all the schools were kept open the entire time. We made some stupid financial decisions and now we have to deal with the consequences. If you want our kids to be able to have the tools they need to learn and a school to go to at all, let them do the work they should have done years ago.

  15. 46st Says:

    ”Closed schools, to build more prisons”, this is beneficial to the community at all, just something else to have property taxes sky rocket and force residents who are from the area out. It’s happening all over the city where’s it a prodomietly ”black” area, It’s time for our people to wake up and realize what’s going on in our communities. Less schools= less educated children= survival= jail. smh

  16. Universities aren't schools Says:

    I keep forgetting that. That and that obviously there are no minorities or immigrants who study to be pharmacists or biological science. Its an obvious act of hate to bring future medical reasearchers into our neighborhood, just to keep us down.

  17. Michael Wilks Says:

    Their using the neighborhood and driving out children’s schools, not bringing in doctors and researchers

  18. USP = no researchers Says:

    Flatly, that wrong.

    Michael Wilks, you should probably address your concerns about what “they” are doing to the neighborhood directly to Dr. Helen F. Gilles-Gee, the president of USP. She in particular seems all about trying to drive black folks out of the neighborhood.

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