Closed Philadelphia Schools Getting A Breath Of New Life

Closed Philadelphia Schools Getting A Breath Of New Life

Three years ago Philadelphia closed nearly ten percent of its schools, there are a few that are left that are actually up for sale. There were originally 28 closures that occurred in 2013, the vast majority of them have been liquidated by the city to private buyers and investment firms of the original 28 there are 6 that are left and still on the market.

So far the schools district has made nearly 75 million dollars from the sale of the 22 properties.  There are a tremendous  amount of uses for these unwanted buildings, most of them being centrally located in urban areas. The wide hallways and typically large windows providing tons of natural light could easily be created into living spaces, artist lofts and or commercial spaces as well. So many parts of the building have potential to have so many other uses than their original intent. Theaters could be converted into conference areas and why not leave a gymnasium area intact to blow off some workday steam by shooting a few hoops or taking a yoga class to reset your mind and body and have a productive end of workday?

Two schools that should be noted are  West Philadelphia High School, which was sold in 2015 for $5,100,000 is under construction now to be an apartment building. Another significant property was sold for $1,750,000,is the Edward W. Bok Vocational High School in South Philadelphia. Both schools are on the National Register of Historic Places.

The remaining schools that are still on the market are the following:

Instead of clearing way or so many of these new projects in Philadelphia, why not work with some of the exhisting landmarks which so many have amazing architectural details both inside and out and get creative with revamping the space? The developers in the quickly expanding real estate market in Philadelphia should remember eclectic is best. Especially with the history that is here mixing the old with the new to keep a diversity in the array of real estate offerings will only draw that many more people instead of the cookie cutter new construction that abounds in every neighborhood.

A great example is an amazing building that is getting a new life right now, The Divine Lorraine designed by the famed Philadelphia architect Willis G Hale ,on the corner of Broad and Fairmont was built between 1892 and 1894 and was both a hotel and an apartment building. It housed, at the time some of the most wealthy residents in Philadelphia. Many years later after passing thru several different owners hands the building was eventually abandoned in 1999. After sitting for three years it was picked up by the sole bidder at a sheriff sale and is now well underway to being restored to its glorious appearance in 1933. It will have the old world splendor with modern day convinces and finishes throughout. 

Below is a short but interesting  article from the lighter side of real estate that is one example of an old school getting a new and prosperous life. If it can be done in Durango, it can be done right here in Philadelphia, in our back yards.

From an abandoned building in Durango, CO to an award-winning community, Charles Shaw turned his vision of an eco-friendly sustainable business into a reality. The 45,000 sq. ft. property, now eerily quiet after years of screaming children running through its halls, sat vacant until Charles and his wife Lisa decided to purchase the Emory E. Smiley building in 1996 from the local school district.

Charles, with the new building in hand, remembers, “When we first bought the building we had vision of…we wanted to make it a place for artists and classes.” Charles and his little family did just that. Now, touting fourteen years of ownership/landlording without a vacancy, the halls are again filled with the voices of happy students, artists, teachers and the like. From art studios that benefit from almost 100% natural light to yoga classes that can warm up student tushies during floating-lotus pose because of the thermally-heated floors, the building is teeming with life.

The real triumph of this community is that Charles, out of necessity, has created perhaps one of the eco-friendliest and energy-efficient buildings in the entire country. Through adept use of motion sensing ventilation, solar panels, and conscious use of electricity, the building’s utility bills went from a whopping $4,500 a month to an anemic $300!!

With vision, purpose and practice Charles has turned an old drafty school building into an eco-loving business commune that’s at the forefront of the “this is how you do things” model.

Clark Fennimore Headshot
Phone: 267-546-6445
Dated: May 22nd 2016
Views: 1,412
About Clark: Clark originally hails from the greater Philadelphia area, and now calls the city home after many ye...

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