Pending deal on former school building catches Germantown High neighbors off guard

 This was once a GHS classroom. (Bas Slabbers/for NewsWorks)

This was once a GHS classroom. (Bas Slabbers/for NewsWorks)

A grassroots group in Northwest Philadelphia says it will fight to bring education back to Germantown High School. But it may have to win over members of a Maryland-based development firm to do that.



The Concordia Group out of Bethesda wants to buy five shuttered school buildings, including GHS, for $6.8 million. Thanks to a Thursday School Reform Commission vote, the company now has approval to negotiate a deal with the district.

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Neighbors did not see this coming.

“We were disappointed by the lack of transparency in the process,” said Julie Stapleton-Carroll, who leads The Germantown High School Task Force.

“We had been hearing for a couple of weeks rumors about various entities that the school was going to be sold to, but received no clarification from anybody either at the school district or our elected officials,” she said. “It appears that our elected officials were also fairly surprised by the decision to sell.”

The group had hoped the building would go to Mount Airy developer Ken Weinstein, who in early June bid $1 for GHS and an undisclosed amount for nearby Robert Fulton Elementary.

Weinstein, president of Philly Office Retail, said he never heard from the district after he submitted the offers.

“It looks like a done deal, and it’s going to be sold to another party. So, that leaves us pretty much out of this,” said Weinstein.

Still, Stapleton-Carroll said she is optimistic that the group can partner with Concordia if the sale is finalized.

Fellow task member Joe Budd said he’s also hopeful that some of the 355,000-square-foot property could be carved out for learning.

“The hope comes from the need for our children to have a viable school in their neighborhood that they can become productive citizens of the community. And we always want to hold onto hope that we’re going to be able to make a difference in the lives of the children of Germantown,” said Budd.

Concordia co-founder William Collins declined to comment on the future of the Germantown High buildign, saying the company did not yet have a contract with the district.

He said that would likely take another month.

In addition to GHS, Concordia hopes to buy Fulton Elementary, Charles Carroll High School in Port Richmond and Walter Smith and Abigail Vare elementaries in South Philadelphia.

Concordia’s bid for the five-building portfolio is a little more than half of what the district – with help of the Philadelphia Industrial Development Corporation – listed the properties for in May.

The sale does not need additional SRC approval.

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