Schenley sale attracts four bidders

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Proposals from four groups bidding on the former Pittsburgh Schenley High School in Oakland include apartments and schools.

School solicitor Ira Weiss Friday opened the sealed bids, which were required to be for at least $4 million, which covers the remaining debt on the historic building.

All four cleared that level, and now the review process will consider a variety of factors, including construction quality, historic preservation, neighborhood compatibility and capacity of the bidders to do the work.

A review committee will make a recommendation on Feb. 6, and the recommended bidder will make a public presentation at board headquarters in Oakland Feb. 18.

The school board is scheduled to vote on Feb. 27. The board reserved the right to reject any and all proposals.

The four bids, in the order opened, are:

• PMC Property Group, $5.2 million

• AWSVPA/Edward Alexei, $4.1 million

• Ralph A. Falbo Inc., $4 million

• Kossman Development Co., agent for Provident Charter School, $4.6 million.

At the bid opening, officials released only the amount and name of the bidder.

Fourth River Development, which was hired by the district as its agent to manage the process, is preparing the bid documents to be posted on the Internet by the close of business Tuesday at and on the district site,

PMC Property Group of Philadelphia was the sole -- and unsuccessful -- bidder on Schenley in 2011 when it bid $2 million and proposed spending $35 million to turn the building into apartments. PMC did not provide information Friday as to whether its latest proposal is similar.

Last fall, PMC, which entered the Downtown Pittsburgh market in 2010, has nearly 200 residential units and was planning to have 1,000 within three to five years.

A group of Schenley High School alumni is proposing AWSVPA -- the Andy Warhol School of Visual and Performing Arts.

Alumnus David Tinker of Brentwood said the group is "leaning toward" a private school that would charge student tuition rather than a charter school, which is a public school for which home school districts pay a fee set by the state.

He expects the proposal will cost more than $25 million. He said the group plans to line up investors and conduct a capital campaign.

Curtis Kossman, president of Kossman Development at Parkway Center, said his group's $36.8 million proposal would include both a charter school for 336 dyslexic children in grades 2-8 and 115 units of for-profit housing for college students.

There also would be space allocated in the school for the Crossroads Foundation, an organization that offers scholarships and academic support to at-risk students at Catholic high schools.

Mr. Falbo, a local developer who is an alumnus of Schenley, said his firm plans to convert the school into 123 apartments -- 99 one-bedroom and 14 two-bedroom -- in a $32 million development. The plan calls for demolishing the addition that includes the pool and gym.

Selling the building is controversial, as reflected by the board's 5-4 vote in September to market the building and solicit bids.

Ever since Schenley was closed in 2008, some supporters have been trying to persuade the district to re-open the school. There are more than 1,000 signers of an online petition at calling for an investigation of why Schenley was closed. At the time, district officials said renovations would be too costly, including resolving an asbestos problem.

The building would be sold in "as is" condition.

education - neigh_city

Education writer Eleanor Chute: or 412-263-1955.


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