Pittsburgh Public Schools has aggressively marketed its vacant school buildings for the last five years. It’s sold 13 in that time and put out a request for proposals in January for the remaining nine. The district gave organizations two months to figure out a development plan.
Thursday, the school board approved the sale of the former Beltzhoover Elementary School. Prior to issuing a RFP, Chief Operations Officer Ron Joseph said the building, which sits on nearly 2 acres of land, was listed for $85,000. But, it’s an aging building that needs a lot of work and Joseph said that price wasn’t attractive to developers.
The district sold the building to the Beltzhoover Consensus Group for $7,500, to be used as a community space. Joseph said the group plans to reach out to the community before determining the best way to use the space.
The sale price, while less than 10 percent of the original asking price, covers the debt the district acquired while the building sat vacant for more than a decade. Beltzhoover was one of the 10 schools that closed before the start of the 2004 school year. The school board attributed the closures to low enrollment.
Joseph said the district is spending nearly $200,000 a year on upkeep for the remaining seven buildings up for sale. If sold for their listed price, those buildings could bring in nearly $5 million to the district.
“We’ve had great success in unloading some of our vacant and unused properties and we’re hopeful that we can continue to sell our remaining buildings and put them to good use in the community,” Joseph said.