William Penn demolition expected in late fall

The former William Penn High School building will be turned into an athletic and job-training facility, per Temple’s master plan.

Officials said that demolition of the William Penn High School building is expected to begin in November. | Donald Otto TTN File Photo
Officials said that demolition of the William Penn High School building is expected to begin in November. | Donald Otto TTN File Photo

Plans to demolish and redevelop the William Penn High School building on Broad and Master streets—once an anchor for the Yorktown community—are moving forward.

Crews will begin remediation work in early September, followed by demolition once the abatement of the facilities is completed, said Dozie Ibeh, assistant vice president of the project delivery group at Temple’s Construction, Facilities and Operations office. Demolition of the building, which was built in 1970, is likely to begin in November, he said.

The anticipated project budget is estimated at $22 million, Ibeh said, and is a part of Temple University’s master plan, Visualize Temple. The building will include athletic and recreational facilities along with a job-training center.

Ibeh said that the Board of Trustees have only approved an $8.5 million budget for demolition and the hiring of a design firm to renovate the former high school. He said final negotiations with the firm are taking place.

So far, preservationists have removed and stored historical objects from the building including photos in the auditorium and a time capsule according to Ibeh. He also said teams are taking pictures of the mural—Cliff Eubanks’ “Street of Dreams”—which appears on the building’s Broad Street side near the corner of Master Street.

Ibeh said the teams haven’t run into major challenges so far.

“[Demolition] will raise its own set of challenges, but we’ll cross that bridge when we get there,” Ibeh said.

Temple purchased the site, which has been vacant since 2010, from the School District of Philadelphia for $15 million in June 2013, The Temple News reported last March.

Jim Creedon, senior vice president of Construction, Facilities & Operation, said further plans for the space include a soccer complex and field space for the women’s lacrosse and track & field teams along with other intramural and club sports, The Temple News also reported earlier this year.

“[President] Theobald said, as part of the master-planning process, we wanted to have soccer back on campus,” Creedon told The Temple News in March.

The soccer teams currently play and practice at Temple’s Ambler Sports Complex. The new complex is expected to be completed by next fall.

The labor-training facility will also be partnered with the university and the Laborers’ District Council’s Education and Training/Apprenticeship Fund, The Temple News previously reported.

Purchase of the building comes after a longstanding battle between the William Penn Development Coalition and the university, who accused the School Reform Commission of stopping efforts to purchase the property since 2009.

Patricia Madej can be reached at patricia.madej@temple.edu or on Twitter @PatriciaMadej.

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