Northeast Times

Broker hopes that deal is near on Frankford Y

β€œIt’s about get­ting this taken over by someone who will make it a be­ne­fit to the com­munity.” β€” Real-es­tate broker Sal Pa­lantino dis­cusses the po­ten­tial sale of the New Frank­ford Com­munity Y.

JENNY SWI­GODA / FOR THE TIMES

There might be a buy­er for the New Frank­ford Com­munity Y build­ing at Ar­rott and Leiper streets.

Real-es­tate broker Sal Pa­lantino is hop­ing a deal to buy the prop­erty, va­cant since mid-2009, is made quickly enough to avoid a sher­iff’s sale planned for Dec. 6. More than $100,000 is owed to Be­ne­fi­cial Sav­ings Bank, said Y pres­id­ent Tony Rachuba.

A pro­spect­ive buy­er looked at the prop­erty for a second time last week, Pa­lantino said in a phone in­ter­view Nov. 16. The broker de­scribed the in­ter­ested party as a Phil­adelphia theo­lo­gic­al in­sti­tu­tion whose rep­res­ent­at­ives had looked at the prop­erty more than two years ago when the ask­ing price was $499,000. The prop­erty has since been lis­ted for sher­iff’s sale more than once, most re­cently in Oc­to­ber, but all dates had been post­poned.

On­line re­cords of the city’s Of­fice of Prop­erty As­sess­ment as­sign a mar­ket value of $1.2 mil­lion to the 33,000-square-foot prop­erty, part of which is a 19th-cen­tury man­sion. An­oth­er sec­tion was built in the 1970s. The city’s as­sessed value is much lower — about $399,000.

The Y was most re­cently lis­ted at $389,000, Pa­lantino said, adding he’s hop­ing to have some good news about a sale by this week.

No mat­ter how the Y is sold — privately or through a sher­iff’s sale — Phil­adelphia’s Orphans Court will have a say in how the pro­ceeds are used, said Jason Dawkins, an aide to City Coun­cil­wo­man Maria Quiñones-Sánchez.

After a sale on the as­sets of a non-profit like the Y, Orphans Court has jur­is­dic­tion over that money, he said. The court also will want to know what the Y did with its funds dur­ing its ex­ist­ence, he ad­ded.

“Orphans Court will as­sign someone to make sure ac­tu­al debts are paid along with guar­an­tee­ing the pub­lic that none of this money was mis­used,” Dawkins said.

The court will de­cide what are le­git­im­ate debts and see to it they’re paid, Dawkins said, and then de­term­ine what to do with any money that re­mains after the debts are re­solved.

If there is a bal­ance, the court will de­term­ine if a non-profit with a sim­il­ar mis­sion should get that money, Dawkins said.

The New Frank­ford Com­munity Y was foun­ded in the early 1990s when the Phil­adelphia YW­CA fol­ded. In June 2009, Terry To­bin, then the ex­ec­ut­ive dir­ect­or, said there wasn’t enough money to keep op­er­at­ing. For sev­er­al years be­fore that, the Y had been the be­ne­fi­ciary of an an­nu­al $200,000 state grant. When the gov­ern­ment money dried up, however, the Y was too deeply in debt to stay open, said To­bin.

Dawkins said To­bin, who died early this year, was asked to pro­duce the Y’s fin­an­cial re­cords but nev­er did. 

Pa­lantino said there is more to the Y’s sale than just pay­ing its debts.

“It’s about get­ting this taken over by someone who will make it a be­ne­fit to the com­munity,” Pa­lantino said.

There have been oth­ers who have walked away from pur­chas­ing the prop­erty in the years since the Y closed.

One group of buy­ers had come up with two plans to re­open the Y as a com­munity cen­ter but was un­able to get the fin­an­cing to move the deal for­ward. An­oth­er buy­er was in­ter­ested this year, Pa­lantino said, but de­cided against the pur­chase after van­dals stripped cop­per pip­ing from in­side the build­ing and then stripped cop­per from re­l­at­ively new rooftop air-con­di­tion­ing units in the sum­mer.

Between Ju­ly 29 and Aug. 2, someone broke in­to an up­per-story rear win­dow and took out the cop­per pip­ing, ac­cord­ing to 15th Po­lice Dis­trict Lt. Mark Bu­gieda.

The stolen pipes were worth thou­sands of dol­lars, Rachuba, the Y’s pres­id­ent, said last week. Pa­lantino said there was some lim­ited in­sur­ance cov­er­age for the dam­age done in­side the build­ing, but none for the rooftop air-con­di­tion­ing units.

Pa­lantino said Rachuba had kept after the prop­erty. He drained the Y’s huge in­door pool, made sure it was se­cure, and cut the grass.

The longer the build­ing sits va­cant, Pa­lantino said, the longer it is a tar­get for van­dals.

“We’re hop­ing (a sale) hap­pens soon,” he said. “It would be great for the com­munity.” 

Pete Specos, the Frank­ford Civic As­so­ci­ation’s zon­ing of­ficer and act­ing pres­id­ent, said a big — and va­cant — fa­cil­ity like the Y is a con­cern to the civic group’s mem­bers.

The best use would be a com­munity cen­ter, he said, but he’s wor­ried about the struc­ture be­ing torn down and re­placed with apart­ments.

Fur­ther, he said, the civic group’s mem­bers have long been con­cerned about the num­ber of drug re­hab­il­it­a­tion fa­cil­it­ies in and around Frank­ford, and don’t want to see that use for the Y. •• 

Re­port­er John Loftus can be reached at 215-354-3110 or jloftus@bsmphilly.com

You can reach at jloftus@bsmphilly.com.

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