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What's Happening in:  East Passyunk Crossing :  Pennsport 

Bok High and Vare Elementary are closing, so does that eventually lead to condos or blight?

Bok Technical High at 9th and Mifflin will be one of 37 schools around the city that the Philadelphia school district is closing, according to an Inquirer report today. Smith elementary at 19th and Wharton is also slated to be shuttered, but for our purposes, we’re most interested in what’s going to happen to the hulking, stone Bok on the edge of East Passyunk Crossing’s boundaries.

Looming over Mifflin Street, at its most littered – photo from Hidden City

Update: Perhaps an even bigger prize (residentially speaking) would be Vare Elementary at Moyamensing and Morris, directly across the street from the newly refurbished Dickinson Square Park. We missed the news about Vare’s closure at first because the program will remain, but move into the George Washington Elementary building at 5th and Federal.

With all the interest in converting former schools in South Philly to condos – Wharton Street Lofts, possibly Sacred Heart in Pennsport – you can’t help but wonder if some creative developer can come in and turn this monster into a residential building:

Bok would be a challenging renovation for residential, given the disproportionate first floor and the building’s historical designation. There’s also a massive auditorium that who knows what they could do with.

Bok’s auditorium. Looks like the one from the movie “Lean on Me.” Thanks to Ethan Schwartz for the picĀ 

On the other hand, federal and state funding could be available for the reuse of a historic building. And the bulk of the school would make great apartments for an influx of several dozen (hundred?) residents that could spread the East Passyunk boom toward the trash-strewn 7th Street corridor. The last thing we need is a gargantuan empty building dragging that part of the neighborhood down.

And with Vare, surely that parkside location will be snatched up for apartments, right?

Sure, we’re getting ahead of ourselves since the places aren’t even closed yet, but what do ya’ll think? Are these good candidates for condo conversion?


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