Germantown YWCA sheriff’s sale may (or may not) finally happen Tuesday

In bits and pieces, the remains of the defunct Germantown Settlement and its related entities continue to be sold off. Next up: The historic Germantown YWCA building at 5820-24 Germantown Ave., which is scheduled for a sheriff’s sale Tuesday.

The historic building, now damaged by several fires, is listed for a public sheriff’s sale at 10 a.m. Tuesday, to satisfy a $1.3 million first mortgage lien on the property currently held by the Philadelphia Redevelopment Authority which loaned Germantown Settlement that same amount to buy the property in 2006.

Area developer Ken Weinstein, who last year bought the former Germantown Settlement Charter School property and has been adding to his portfolio of properties in the neighborhood, is interested in potentially stepping in to redevelop the YWCA property — though the building may not survive.

“The most obvious use for this building is low- and moderate-income senior housing,” Weinstein said. “Along with Center in the Park, I would like to be a part of finding a use for this property and making it into something of which Germantown can be proud.”

A senior-housing plan would only be possible through the use of low-income tax credits, he said.

Tattered art and history

The former YWCA building, which sits alongside Vernon Park and is listed on the city’s Register of Historic Places, is also notable for a colorful mural done in 2001 depicting significant women in Germantown’s history.

The property was previously cleared for a sheriff’s sale in 2010, though a host of legal issues cropped up that prevented the sale from going through. Since then, several fires have damaged parts of the building. There is talk that it could possibly be delayed on Tuesday, as well.

“Unfortunately, after three serious fires, the building can no longer be saved,” Weinstein said. “I don’t say this lightly. In my 20-plus years of real estate development, I have never demolished a building but this one is beyond repair because of many years of neglect.”

Settlement remnants

Because of its historic significance and prominent location along Germantown Avenue, the property is one of the more visible leftovers of the Germantown Settlement debacle, which continues even though the social services agency no longer exists.

The Settlement bankruptcy was originally two cases.

One was the dissolution of Germantown Settlement itself, which included the YWCA building and the charter school, among others, which effectively ended in 2010 when U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Stephen Raslavich ordered the group’s assets to be sold off and converted the case from a Chapter 11 to a Chapter 7 bankruptcy case.

The other matter, that of the Greater Germantown Housing Development Corp., a Settlement offshoot which managed residential development, continues before Raslavich. Lawyer Gary F. Seitz, the trustee on the case, could not be reached for comment Monday.

Local attorney Irv Ackelsberg, who has been the community’s unofficial voice in the case before Judge Raslavich, said GGHDC’s assets — which include occupied rental properties — continue to be sold off in pieces as the complex web of subsidiaries, partnerships and unpaid debts that area Settlement’s legacy continue to unravel.

NewsWorks has partnered with independent news gatherer PlanPhilly to provide regular, in-depth, timely coverage of planning, zoning and development news. Contact Amy Z. Quinn at azquinn@planphilly.com.

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