The property, which includes a swimming pool, a basketball court and 10 rundown buildings, on an entire city block, is owned by the Church of Bible Understanding, an organization founded by Stewart Traill, a former vacuum cleaner salesman who rebranded himself a prophet and attracted followers beginning in the 1970s, The Philadelphia Inquirer said Monday.
By 1985 the church had moved its headquarters to New York, and was ordered by a judge to stop taking in homeless children and putting them to work in a carpet-cleaning business, an incident parodied on the television program "Seinfeld."
City Councilwoman Jannie L. Blackwood and state Sen. Anthony Williams, D-Philadelphia, who both represent the area that includes the property, greeted the news of the sale positively, each saying charter schools and other organizations sought to purchase it in the past but could not reach the owner.
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