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University to acquire William Penn property

In a partnership with the LDC Fund, the property is planned to be redeveloped as athletics fields for two of Temple’s teams and as a job-training academy that will partner with the university’s College of Education.

The School District of Philadelphia approved the $15 million sale Thursday night of the 475,000-square-foot shuttered William Penn High School building to Temple and a Philadelphia-based laborers’ union. The partners’ preliminary plans include a job-training academy and athletic fields being placed on the property, located on N. Broad Street between Master Street and Girard Avenue.

Despite past speculation that the university would use the property to build an on-campus football stadium, Temple athletics will instead receive additional field space for the soccer and lacrosse teams by removing some of the vacant buildings on the property, according to a university statement.

Under the announced plan, the partnered laborers’ union — the Laborers’ District Council Education and Training/Apprenticeship Fund — will use the portion of the building facing N. Broad Street as a construction vocations training facility for those 18-years-old or more.

The district closed William Penn in 2010 and its 641 students were relocated to nearby schools.

The five-acre property had a 2014 certified market value of $32.5 million, according to city property assessment records in November of last year. The School District of Philadelphia, whose asking price for William Penn was $15 million, has had a continued budget crisis, with last year’s budget deficit at $362,000 and a $35 million shortfall still unaccounted for.

Temple first showed interest in purchasing the property in January 2013.  In February, the district announced that it had agreement of sale for six of its properties, all of which it intended to close before June 30.

Temple’s Career Technical Education Center, a section of the university’s College of Education, will also partner with the new academy to offer teacher-training programs. LDC Fund instructors will then be eligible to earn credits toward an undergraduate degree in industrial education from Temple or other degrees.

The planned educational programming will also include general education in literacy, English as a second language, GED, writing composition, mathematics and life management, a term the university statement explained as financial or stress control skills.

The district’s School Reform Commission approved the sale of the property in a 4-1 decision.

Marcus McCarthy can be reached at marcus.mccarthy@temple.edu or on Twitter @marcusmccarthy6.

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