Jefferson School For Sale Again

What’s more difficult than opening a seminary affiliated with a Korean Presbyterian Church from Long Island, N.Y., in rural Warren County?

Selling the Residential zoned property it sits on.

Plans to open a Goshen Theological Seminary in the former Jefferson Elementary School have been shuttered, and the school has been put up for sale.

There are a number of reasons why the former school was never transformed into a seminary. In the five and half years since Juyoung Choi purchased the property the proper paperwork was never filed with the Pennsylvania Department of Education. They “have no application, much less approval,” a PDE spokesperson said in 2011.

There’s the nominal, if at all, desire by Warren County residents to see such a school open, though the city would surely be happy to add it to the tax rolls.

And perhaps most of all, there was no real reason for purchasing the building besides that it was empty.

“The place was really suitable,” Choi told the Times Observer in 2008. “There was no specific reason why we chose Warren.”

Choi purchased the school in 2008 and since then it has been vandalized, the lawn has been mowed intermittently, and a stack of phone books on the front entrance are the only real sign that a human has set foot on the 34,600-square-foot property.

Howard Hannah Realtor Allen Sowers said the seminary now plans to “simply get rid of the property” which is zoned R2.

To put any type of business on school ground the property, including the entire block, would have to be rezoned commercial, Sowers said.

“If they would put a school in for children that were non-profit, then you could do something with it, but as long as it’s going to have a profit to it, it’s going to have to have a different zoning,” he said. “That’s definitely going to limit selling it.”

Sowers said the property is in good shape and sits on 1.2 acres in a residential area. It was built in 1960 with electric and amenities to set up apartments.

The plan was to open in the fall of 2009, according to Choi, with up to 25 students enrolled for the 2010-2011 academic year paying out of pocket or with possible scholarships for three different master’s degree programs: Master of Divinity, Master of Theology and Master of Divinity/Master of Music.

The seminary was to be affiliated with the Seokwang Korean Presbyterian Church in Long Island, N.Y., which was founded by Choi’s father Goshen Choi in 1993. The church formed a NYSKC – New life, Yielding for manna, Salvation for one-by-one, Keeping Lord’s day and Complete offering- a movement called “Restoration of Worship,” Choi told the Times Observer in 2008.

“It’s a beautiful property,” Sowers said. “It’s just finding somebody who has a use for something like that.”