Waldorf Schools gets the OK for additional Wayne Ave. building

 The carriage building behind 6024 Wayne Ave. will be converted into classroom space. (Daniel Pasquarello/for NewsWorks)

The carriage building behind 6024 Wayne Ave. will be converted into classroom space. (Daniel Pasquarello/for NewsWorks)

A variance has been granted to the owner of the building located at the rear of 6024 Wayne Ave. in Germantown that will allow the residentially-zoned former carriage house at that location to be converted into classroom space for the nearby Waldorf School of Philadelphia.

 

The property’s owner, 6024 LLC, composed of community benefactors of the school, and the school’s administration, will be meeting this week with members of the neighborhood to hear and address the concerns of near-neighbors, per a signed letter of support submitted to the Zoning Board of Appeals by the West Central Germantown Neighborhood Association.

“We are really enthusiastic about moving to Germantown, and especially to this property,” said Kerry Hoffman, Chair of the Waldorf School of Philadelphia. “We are really starting to see the beauty of this space now.”

Background

The hearing earlier this month came as something of a culmination to a seven-year search for a new campus for the Waldorf School of Philadelphia. A site committee was originally formed in 2007 to identify potential properties.

The consensus feeling among the school’s community members was that a location within the city limits of Philadelphia would be ideal. A number of properties in Roxborough, Germantown, Mt. Airy and Chestnut Hill were given initial consideration before the search narrowed to a handful of former churches.

Eventually the former Episcopal Church of St. Peter, completed in 1883 by Furness & Hewitt at 6000 Wayne Avenue, emerged as the clear favorite.

As previously reported by NewsWorks, local developer Ken Weinstein has partnered with the school to see the St. Peter’s property renovated, with the school having signed a ten-year lease.

Plans to explore the possibility of acquiring the property at 6024 Wayne Avenue developed after the City’s Historic Commission denied the school’s request to add a second floor to parts of the Episcopal Church campus.

A group of community members involved with the school approached the former owners of 6024 with an offer to purchase the entire property. The current plans to renovate and expand the rear carriage house were prepared by one of the members of the LLC, the architect Jim Cassidy.

Future plans

The additional classroom space afforded by the 6024 annex will allow the school’s total enrollment to grow from the current enrollment of just over 200 students to approximately 280 students. That would break down to 24 students in each grade, 16 students each in five kindergartens of mixed-age students and a maximum of 10 students in one nursery of young children.

Beyond providing room to house five additional classrooms, the addition of the carriage house building to the new Waldorf School campus will also expand the school’s capacity to host summer and after school programs.

“We really want to become part of this community,” said Hoffman. “It’s a great, thriving neighborhood and we are very excited to create partnerships with our neighbors and other local organizations.”

The Waldorf School of Philadelphia will begin its move to the 6000 Wayne Avenue campus in June, with an opening weekend celebration to be held on May 30.

Summer camp will begin on July 6, and the addition to the carriage house will be completed by Aug. 1.

Following the meeting scheduled for next week to hear the concerns of neighborhood residents, an additional Town Hall meeting is being planned for March to further facilitate discussion of those concerns.

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