by Luke Harold
About 25 residents of W. Chestnut Hill Avenue gathered at the Greylock Manor on Sunday afternoon to meet with officials from Green Woods Charter School, which plans to purchase the manor and convert it into its new campus.
Green Woods will pay Greylock Holdings, LLC $2.2 million for the manor, which has stood at 209 W. Chestnut Hill Avenue for over 100 years. It was most recently used as an office building, but has been vacant since 2008.
Jean Wallace, the school’s CEO, said they wanted to move from their current location, at the Schuylkill Center for Environmental Education in Roxborough, because it was too small.
“We wanted to move ourselves where we can have 225 students comfortably,” she said.
And Green Woods plans to expand to as many as 675 students over the next several years. Accordingly, their faculty and staff would gradually rise from about 20 to about 40. Residents were concerned that adding a school to the avenue would contribute to the congested traffic conditions.
“If we weren’t meeting here today for your purposes, I would want to have a meeting to determine how to reduce the traffic as it is now, [without adding a school],” said W. Chestnut Hill Avenue resident Ulrich Hiesinger, addressing Wallace and the project’s architect, Joe Jancuska, during the presentation.
Jancuska, who has served as the architect for 10 Philadelphia charter schools, presented his three-phase plan to convert the manor into a school that can accommodate Green Woods’ planned expansion, and satisfy the community.
“We don’t want it to work unless it works for everybody,” he said.
Green Woods, a K-8 school, tentatively plans to move grades three through eight into the manor this September. The initial cost to prepare the property for the start of the 2011-2012 school years is $1.5 million, Jancuska said. Green Woods will use another $15 million over the next eight years to complete his plan.
Hiesinger, a resident of W. Chestnut Hill Avenue of over 30 years, also said he is concerned that Green Woods move into the Greylock Manor would take away from the “nature of the property.”
“This property is part of the reason why this is an historic district,” he said. “If you add 700-odd people…suddenly, what is it?”