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Plans Outlined for Historic Archbishop Prendergast Property in Upper Darby Township
(Delaware and Chester Counties, PA • September 17, 2019)—Today, Dr. L. Joy Gates Black, president of Delaware County Community College, announced comprehensive plans for the historic former Archbishop Prendergast Catholic High School property, located at Garrett Road and Lansdowne Avenue in Upper Darby Township.
Her announcement, made at the College’s main campus in Marple Township, comes after the College and the Archdiocese of Philadelphia jointly announced last week a signed agreement of sale. The purchase of the property is an important first step in a multi-step process that will result in the College creating a new, full-service, comprehensive community-centered campus on an 8.5-acre portion of the approximately 30-acre property, currently home to Monsignor Bonner & Archbishop Prendergast Catholic High School. Under the sales agreement, the College will purchase the Prendergast building and land from the Archdiocese of Philadelphia for $3 million. “We are incredibly appreciative to our Board of Trustees and our sponsoring school districts for supporting this endeavor,” Dr. Gates Black said.
This fall, the College will be meeting with community members to share plans and listen to their suggestions. The College will attempt to incorporate the feedback gained at these meetings into the plans for the property. Additional next steps include further architectural and engineering analysis, applying for zoning, and submission of an application for capital funding to the Pennsylvania Department of Education. Once funding is approved, the College anticipates the construction and renovation of the property to take approximately eighteen months. The total cost of the project is estimated at $55 million dollars.
“Based on the important feedback we have received from our community members, we envision a comprehensive, multi-use facility that will provide quality, affordable education and training, as well as community programs for Delaware County residents,” Dr. Gates Black said.
The Prendergast building is 118,000 square feet, allowing for the construction of a full-service campus, with approximately 30 classrooms, including chemistry and biology labs, as well as space for student support services. In order to better serve students, the Upper Darby and Southeast centers will eventually be consolidated into the new campus, which will provide an array of academic and technical programs and student support services that are not available at the current locations. As 60% of the College’s students transfer to four-year colleges and universities, the new campus will provide the coursework necessary for those students to complete their studies prior to transferring. Examples of possible academic and career and technical programs that may be offered at the new campus include Science for the Health Professions, Health Studies/Pre-Nursing, Early Childhood Education, Culinary Arts, Electro-Mechanical Technologies, Nurse’s Aide program, and other degree and certificate programs that lead directly into the workforce.
The new campus will be an integral part of the community and will include dedicated space for a community empowerment center. This center will provide community members with access to a broad array of county resources,
as well as community education courses and other programs. Additionally, the College plans to partner with the YMCA of Eastern Delaware County to create a separate early childhood education center on the property. The early childhood education center, which will be operated by the YMCA, will not only provide much needed childcare for students with children, but it will also serve as a learning lab for students pursuing a degree or certificates in Early Childhood Education.
Founded in 1967, Delaware County Community College provides education and training to 23,000 credit and non-credit students through online courses and at its seven locations in Delaware and Chester Counties.
Photo Caption: Rachael Patten, Vice President, Institutional Advancement; Grant Snyder, Vice President, Student Affairs; Paula Pitcher, Vice President, Enrollment Management; President Dr. L. Joy Gates Black; Marian McGorry, Acting Chief Academic Officer; Mary Jo Boyer, Vice President, Branch Campus Operations; Harry Costigan, Chief of Staff. Photo taken outside the Founders Building with the STEM Center in the background on the College's Marple Campus.