Details available for proposed reuses of Schenley High

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What should be done with the historic Pittsburgh Schenley High School, closed since 2008?

Four groups gave their ideas in bids to buy the building.

Details of their proposals were posted Tuesday at, the website of Fourth River Development, which Pittsburgh Public Schools hired to market the building.

A review committee will recommend one of the bids Feb. 6, and that bidder will make a public presentation at board headquarters in Oakland at 6 p.m. Feb. 18. The school board is scheduled to vote Feb. 27.

All bidders had to offer at least $4 million for the building, but other factors -- construction quality, historic preservation, neighborhood compatibility -- will be considered in the final decision. The board also can reject all bids.

The bidders are:

• PMC/Schenley HSB Associates, L.P., associated with PMC Property Group of Philadelphia, $5.2 million bid. It would spend $36.9 million for about 175 luxury apartments with a fitness center. The existing gym would be used, but potential uses for the pool and auditorium would be determined later.

• Kossman Development Co. and Provident Charter School, $4.6 million. Their $36.8-million proposal includes 115 units of housing for college students and young professionals as well as a charter school for 336 dyslexic children in grades 2-8. The gym would stay, but the pool would be filled in and possibly used as a cafeteria.

• AWSVPA/Edward Alexei, $4.1 million. This plan, expected to cost more than $25 million, would turn the building into the Andy Warhol School of Visual and Performing Arts for up to 1,000 high school students. Planned by a group of Schenley alumni including Mr. Alexei, the tuition-based school would have four tracks: animation, film and audio production, game development and performing arts. A nonprofit organization would be formed to operate it.

• Ralph A. Falbo Inc. and Beacon Communities Development, $4 million. Their $32 million plan calls for 123 market rate apartments. The gym and pool addition would be demolished. Auditorium use is to be determined. Mr. Falbo is a Schenley graduate.

In 2011, PMC Property Group of Philadelphia was the unsuccessful lone bidder for Schenley at $2 million. PMC entered the Downtown Pittsburgh market in 2010, and its work includes 201 Stanwix Place, a reuse of the former Verizon building, for apartments and a charter school.

The three for-profit proposals rely on federal and state historic tax credits to make their projects work. Such credits also carry construction restrictions that require historic preservation.

The Kossman/Provident proposal is contingent on receiving $5.2 million in federal and state historic tax credits, the city school board's approval of a charter school application, financing and various government approvals.

PMC/Schenley proposes 75 to 125 parking spaces and plans to seek a 30 percent reduction in zoning requirements for parking.

Kossman/Provident would build a parking deck in the rear service area of the building.

The Falbo/Beacon proposal would demolish the addition with the gym and pool to provide surface parking. It also would put surface parking on Bigelow Boulevard on either side of the main entrance.

The PMC/Schenley packet says it is willing to consider community access to the gym from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. weekdays and limited access to the auditorium.

The Kossman/Provident states that "a key feature of this proposal is the availability of the existing school building for community use."

The Falbo/Beacon proposal assumes the auditorium would not be available for outside use and "if it can be restored to any use, it will be available to use by the residents only."

Noting the limited parking, the proposal states the developers "do not want to propose a use that would increase traffic to the area."

The Provident Charter School has been in the planning stages for years but didn't have a location. Curtis Kossman, president of Kossman Development, is dyslexic and the parent of dyslexic children.

The Warhol school would be private. Its name is pending approval from the Andy Warhol Foundation.

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Education writer Eleanor Chute: or 412-263-1955 First Published January 22, 2013 12:30 AM


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