Expert Says Plan To Sell Off Philly School Buildings Won’t Fetch Much Cash

By Mike DeNardo

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Although Philadelphia City Council president Darrell Clarke says he prefers selling shuttered school buildings to raise the $50 million promised to the school district (see related story), one real estate expert counters that it may not be so easy.

University of Pennsylvania design professor Harris Steinberg led a team of graduate students who looked at how cities disposed of surplus buildings.

Council president Clarke says selling just eight of 32 empty schools could yield $100 million.  But Steinberg says market realities paint a different picture.

Steinberg guesses the most valuable properties, near Penn and Drexel, would bring maybe $10 million.

“Most of the other schools — I would say 75 percent — are either in weak markets or have no markets.  So getting to $50 million, I believe, will be extremely difficult,” he tells KYW Newsradio.

Steinberg says the city needs a disposition plan that allows schools to be repurposed in a way that gives back to their communities — while acknowledging that some buildings may be hard to sell.

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