The school year is in full swing across the city, but the site of the former Delaware Valley High School in East Falls is quiet, after the school district severed its relationship with the troubled school for troubled students.
Which begs the question: Now that the school East Falls never wanted is gone, what will happen to the property, which sits in a key location near the intersection of Ridge and Midvale avenues, in the neighborhood’s commercial hub?
Mark Sherman, who owns the property that sits between Ridge Avenue and Kelly Drive, said he’s settling details of his lease with DVHS, then will consider a lease or sale of the site at 4333 Kelly Drive.
“The most likely user will be a school or a developer to redevelop the entire site, something that would enhance the community and the business district,” Sherman said in an email. He did not respond to further interview requests about the property or its future.
As NewsWorks’ Benjamin Herold has reported, the school district brought in another operator to take over a DVHS site in Southwest Philadelphia attended by 200 city high school students. But another 300 students who had attended the disciplinary school at the DVHS East Falls campus were redistributed to other other “transition schools” in other parts of the city.
After a City Council session last Thursday, Fourth District Councilman Curtis Jones, Jr. talked to NewsWorks about what he hopes for the future of that site.
“What I care most about is the constituents that it serves,” Jones said. “It has been my opinion and it continues to be my opinion, that that’s a place for economic development – retail. That wasn’t a good location [for a school] then and it’s not a good location now.”
The site is now empty, and in recent days the only activity has been landscapers trimming bushes and grass. The school district severed its business relationship with DVHS late last month, amid lawsuits, financial woes and an ongoing FBI probe reportedly into whether David T. Shulick, the for-profit school’s chief executive officer, used political influence to secure district contracts.
The property sits within a block zoned for Neighborhood Commercial Mixed Uses, “primarily intended to accommodate active, pedestrian-friendly retail and service uses in commercial nodes and along commercial corridors.” It is also subject to the East Falls Neighborhood Commercial Area overlay, which governs setbacks from Kelly Drive, sets parking requirements and signage.
DVHS moved into the site in 2009, over the objections of at least 1,000 East Falls residents who signed petitions against it. It’s adjacent to the nearby site where developer Onion Flats is planning a 123-unit apartment complex called Ridge Flats.
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Yasmein James contributed to this report.