The review team contracted by the Pittsburgh Public School District through Fourth River Development L.L.C. has recommended that the board accept a $5.2 million bid to purchase the closed Schenley High School.
PMC/Schenley HSB Associates, L.P. expects to turn the shuttered school in Oakland into 175 market-rate, luxury apartments. Fourth River said it chose PMC based on a number of factors including limitation of risk, and the ability and capacity to complete in a timely manner, and proposed uses for the property.
“Price is certainly a driving force, to say otherwise would not be fair or accurate,” said Fourth River’s Pat Morosetti, “some of the benefits would be that there will be jobs created for the construction work; since it’s a for-profit group it will be placed back on the tax rolls which benefits all three taxing bodies in which Schenley is located.”
The review panel looked at four bids that ranged from PMC’s $5.2 down to a bid from Ralph A. Falbo Inc. for $4 million. The Falbo bid also involved turning the building into residential units.
The other two bids would reopen the building as a school. That includes a bid from a group made up of Schenley graduates that wanted to create an arts and technology school. The future of Schenley is still a bit uncertain and even though their bid was not recommended, the group said it would continue to work with the Pittsburgh Public Schools Board to reopen it as a school.
“Schenley really is a culture and a group of people, and to know that it has even the chance of returning to being something special again, I think that means a lot to a lot of people,” said Schenley alumnus James Hill.
While the process to sell Schenley goes forward the school board voted to fund a re-evaluation of the building’s condition. The reason given for shuttering the building was unsafe levels of asbestos and other structural problems. But there have been questions about the accuracy of the original asbestos report. Some board members support seeing the building reopened as a school.
PMC will hold community meeting on February 18th, where it will present its plans to the public.
“The focus is for them to restore and preserve what is seen by all as an iconic and historical structure in Pittsburgh,” said Fourth River’s Morosetti.
A public hearing will be held on February 25th and the board is slated to vote on the plan February 27th.