by Michael E. Burch
It has been one year since Leidy school closed its doors for good as a public school. Leidy had a fifty year lifespan in the Parkside community but last June it lost that life when Leidy became one of 24 schools forced to close by the School Reform Commission. The closing of a neighborhood public school is painful to all involved (including teachers, students, parents and the community as a whole). Leidy is closed and that’s a fact, but what happens now? One result of the closing means that the community is left with a large vacant building in our neighborhood. Vacant schools can quickly become eyesores, and dangerous places. The situation is the same in every community this happens to. The question cries out: whado you do with these old buildings? In the best case scenario you sell these building to interested parties, and hopefully they can start a new life of service. However, it can often take years to find interested and responsible buyers.
In Leidy’s case, however, there is at least one young developer who has an idea, not for the school building but for the land area Leidy currently sits upon. Mr. German Yakubov is a young developer who along with his brother formed Haverford Square Properties a small property investment company working primarily in the Mantua section of West Philadelphia.
The Yakubov brothers began buying, rehabbing and then renting properties to university students along Haverford Avenue. In fact many of their properties still lie in Mantua. After working and going to college in University City the brothers have become very familiar with West Philadelphia, particularly Mantua and University City. Looking to expand their business and grow into a new community Mr. Yakubov was advised to take a look at the Parkside neighborhood.
His company has already purchased land in our area with the intention to build new homes and stores for residents. Mr. Yakubov has real hopes for continued development in our area, but his real ambitions are directed toward Leidy School or to be more accurate the land it sits on. His company
envisions a triangular shaped, four or five story, mixed use building structure.
The building will have retail space on the first floor levels, and one, two, and possibly three bedroom apartments above. This new building would use the entire perimeter of the Leidy school footprint.
According to Mr. Yakubov “The retail space would be filled with stores that support local residents such as restaurants, barber shops, frozen yogurt shops, or coffee shops; something that complements the residents in the community and the people who live above the retail space. “The proposed structure would have an open courtyard at its center where people could meet after dining, or having coffee at one of the restaurants on the first floor. German Yakubov’s hope is that his building will attract new residents to the area, as well as appeal to current residents. He seeks to attract people who visit the area, but don’t live here. People who visit the Zoo, Please Touch Museum, The Mann Music Center, The Shufuso Japanese House and the other events and
attractions that take place in our area. These individuals visit our area but never cross Parkside Avenue.
Mr. Yakubov;s question is “why not live here in Parkside?” German Yakubov’s hope is that his building will attract new residents to the area, as well as appeal to current residents. He seeks to attract people who visit the area, but don’t live here. People who visit the Zoo, Please Touch Museum, The Mann Music Center, The Shufuso Japanese House and the other events and attractions that take place in our area. These individuals visit our area but never cross Parkside Avenue. Mr. Yakubov;s question is “why not live here in Parkside?”
If things progress the way Haverford Properties envisions, they will have tenants who may be recent college graduates, professionals from University of Pennsylvania, Drexel or even Saint Joseph’s. During my conversations with Mr. Yakubuv he enthusiastically points out all the selling points of our area, easy access in and out, close proximity to City Line Avenue, and equally close to Center City or University City, and we have a new shopping center also. Parkside meets all of the requirements to attract new residents. The proposed plan is bold but with any plan there are problems. If the above shown building is built where is the parking space for the added people? What will the traffic patterns be like during peak driving times? How will current residents fair during such a transition? German has been paying close attention to community residents, and we hope this type of attention will continue throughout the construction process and beyond.
Like any development in our area this is just a proposed plan right now. Mr. Yakubov has not been awarded the project from the city. There are many more community meetings to be held; and I’m sure major discussions with Councilwoman Blackwell’s office before any such project would be allowed to
It’s our understanding that there are least two individuals interested in the Leidy space. Mr. Yakubuv has been the most direct in meeting with community residents, and this project will stir moreneeded development in the area.
It should be noted that on May 6th. 2014 Leidy school was placed on the available school sale list from the City of Philadelphia and given a price tag of 2.3 million dollars. Haverford properties has placed a bid in for the property.
If all goes as the Yakubuv brothers would like, and they do get to purchase the Leidy space, and they get the necessary funding, he sees this as a two year project from breaking ground to finished project.
What do you think of this project, is this something our community wants? Send you comments to The Parkside Journal at: firstname.lastname@example.org