LEAP Academy charter purchases Wilson building for $2 million

he historic 12-story Wilson Building, vacant since the mid ’90s was purchased by LEAP Academy Universal Charter school last month.

Camden's first skyscraper has a new owner.

In today's paper I reported LEAP Academy Charter was looking into buying the Wilson building at 130 North Broadway, adjacent to its campus.

It turns out, they already did.

LEAP purchased the 12-story historic buildling for $2 million at the beginning of February, said Robert Corr, Senior Vice President of Binswanger, a realty agency handling the sale on behalf of Beneficial Mutual Savings Bank.

The charter, which operates three schools in the city, also applied for an Economic Development Authority bond to refinance a private loan to purchase the buildling (hence the confusion). A hearing on the bond application is scheduled for April 8.

The building was partially renovated in 2009 by Dysart Ventures, a development firm in New York City and was intended for corporate office and retail tenants. Dysart bought the property from previous owner Steve Rubin for $3.5 million in 2008, records show, but later defaulted on a loan and handed the property back to Beneficial bank, Corr said.

Corr said there were no tenants in the building at the time of the sale but there was an income stream from cell towers on the roof and an ATM machine outside.

LEAP has not returned calls for comment.

The charter operator has had its eye on expanding and in board meeting minutes discussed the desire to purchase the building which dates back to 1926. A legal notice put out by the Economic Development Authority said the charter was requesting a refinancing bond not to exceed $10 million "to build a new school."

LEAP applied to open a renaissance school in the fall but was not approved. In its proposal, the school said it wanted to open a K-12 school in Cramer Hill which would eventually serve 1,405 students, beginning with 600 kindergarten to fifth grade students in the 2015-2016 school year.

LEAP currently has 1,300 students enrolled in its lower school (K-6), an upper school (7-12), and a specialized STEM High School (9-12).

-Julia Terruso

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