Redevelopment at University City High School hits a snag

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 Philadelphia Councilwoman Jannie Blackwell (Nathaniel Hamilton/NewsWorks Photo, file)

Philadelphia Councilwoman Jannie Blackwell (Nathaniel Hamilton/NewsWorks Photo, file)

Redevelopment plans for a former Philadelphia high school are hoping to get back on track after hitting a roadblock.

After introducing a bill that would make zoning changes for the project, councilwoman Jannie Blackwell was outraged when the proposed redevelopers of University City High School tried to push through council amended plans for the property.

“You’re not trying to work with any of us, you come in and you hand an amendment out and you say you’re willing to work with me?” she said incredulously. “You didn’t come in with any community agreement. What do you think this is, who do you think we are?”

Drexel University is proposing a mixed-use for the facility that was shuttered a year ago. It’s buying the property for more than $25 million from the Philadelphia School District, which is trying to raise money by selling many of the schools it closed.

At a recent hearing, Councilman Bill Greenlee called for some calm and tried to work out an agreement. He’s still unsure why the deal had to be done by June 30th, before council’s summer recess.

“I guess the concern I have is, I’m sorry the school district didn’t seem to be moving fast and then we got this drop dead date and it confuses me,” he said.

The parties are hoping to work things out for the mixed use development at a hearing this week.

There’s a lot at stake for the large property just north of Market Street between 36th and 37th streets.  It comes at a time when Drexel is expanding significantly and the University City area is growing quickly.  Plus neighborhood residents who were upset that UCity High was closed in the first place appear to be watching the process closely.

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