PHILADELPHIA-The School District of Philadelphia has signed a 10-year lease for 62,023 sf in the Balch Institute building at 18 S. Seventh St. The school district and its Center City region will operate a new magnet public high school, Constitution High School for American Studies, there in conjunction with the National Constitution Center and the New York City-based Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History.

Michael Gallagher of the locally based Flynn Co. represented the school district. Sid Smith and John Mitkus of GVA Smith Mack represented the owner of the 84,000-sf building, which is located at the corner of Seventh and Market streets. Gallagher tells the space for the school was previously vacant. The value of the lease and rental rates are undisclosed.

The curriculum of the new magnet school will focus on law, democracy and civics. It will open in September with approximately 125 ninth-grade public school students, selected on the basis of academic achievement and other criteria. An enrollment of 500 is projected by 2009. Constitution High is among seven magnet schools scheduled to open here over the next several years under various partnerships, including ones with the Franklin Institute, Microsoft and the University of Pennsylvania.

Expansion of the locally based Constitution Center’s educational role in this project is funded with a grant from the Annenberg Foundation. Gilder Lehrman sponsors 31 history schools nationwide, and this will be its first in Pennsylvania. Constitution High is also getting pro bono support from the locally based law firm of Ballard Spahr Andrews and Ingersoll.

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