Top 5 Northwest Philadelphia development stories of 2011 — No. 5

In Northwest Philly’s neighborhoods this year, you didn’t have to shop around very far to find tasty stories about land use and development. And some of the meatiest were somehow related to grocery stores — though despite many neighbors’ fervent hopes, not a Whole Foods or a Trader Joe’s among them.

This week, NewsWorks and Plan Philly will bring you five of the juiciest stories among them. Here is the fifth:

CHARTERS ON THE MOVE: Even as the School District of Philadelphia talked about shutting down or selling outmoded and under-filled buildings, two Northwest charters saw significant growth and change. In October, the West Oak Lane Charter School celebrated the completion of a $16 million expansion that brought all of its 850 students under one roof for the first time.

The future is less clear for the Green Woods Charter School, which began 2011 by announcing it would move from to a new campus by September, 2012. In April, the School Reform Commission granted Green Woods a charter expansion to grow to up to 675 students, but the environmentally-focused charter can’t do it in its current location on the grounds of the Schuylkill Center for Environmental Education in Andorra.

An early plan to relocate to the empty Greylock Manor property in Chestnut Hill withered after the Chestnut Hill Historical Society declined to make an exception to historical easements on the property.

Lately, the school turned its attention to Manayunk and lower Roxborough, which despite their rowhouse reputations do have a few large, undeveloped parcels. A brief flirtation with Germany Hill re-ignited neighbors’ determination to see that 20 acres preserved, and the school is now reportedly in talks with the owners of the Keenan’s Valley View Inn property on Domino Lane.

Coming Monday: Stories to watch in 2012.

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Contact Amy Z. Quinn at azquinn@planphilly.com.

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