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Councilwoman Blackwell Blasts Drexel’s Plan To Buy University City High School

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During a break in the hearing, Councilwoman Jannie Blackwell (in center back, facing camera) discusses her concerns with attorney Peter Kelsen, standing in center back to camera. (credit: Mike Dunn)

During a break in the hearing, Councilwoman Jannie Blackwell (in center back, facing camera) discusses her concerns with attorney Peter Kelsen, standing in center back to camera. (credit: Mike Dunn)

Mike Dunn Mike Dunn
Mike Dunn is City Hall bureau chief for KYW Newsradio 1060. He covers...
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By Mike Dunn

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) - Attorneys for Drexel University got a tongue lashing Tuesday from a city council member over the school’s plans to buy the shuttered University City High School.

Drexel wants to buy the University City High School site from the School District for $25 million and the District wants to go to closing by June 16th.

But at a rules committee hearing, Councilwoman Jannie Blackwell, whose district includes that area, gave school attorneys an earful because of what she said were surprise amendments to the plan. And she’s outraged over the lack of a community benefits agreement.

“You can’t come in here today, hand us an amendment, and say you’re happy to work with us in the future!”

Attorney Peter Kelsen, representing the developer and the University, did his best to mollify Blackwell:

“It is our sincere commitment to continue the dialogue with the community to reach an understanding of community benefits as well as process,” Kelsen said.

Blackwell, though, was not satisfied.

“You’re not even trying to work with any of us! You come in and you hand an amendment out and say you’re happy to work with me! You didn’t come with any community agreement! What do you think this is?” She asked. “Who do you think we are?”

And Blackwell convinced her colleagues on the committee to delay their vote on the measure until at least next week. Kelsen voiced the fear that the new timeframe could jeopardize the District’s intent to close on the property by the 16th, as final passage by Council would not come until the 19th.

Drexel intends to build new office space, an elementary school and residential units on the site at 36th and Filbert Streets.

 

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