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What's Happening in:  East Passyunk Crossing :  Pennsport :  Point Breeze 

3 S. Philly school buildings on possible path to redevelopment as city announces open houses

Are you a developer with a sense of adventure? Then this kind of open house is for you.

The city has announced that it will hold open houses for 20 shuttered school buildings in the next month, and on the list are Bok High in East Passyunk Crossing, Vare Elementary in Pennsport and Walter Smith Elementary in Point Breeze.

The open houses, which you must register for by RSVPing here, start next weekend. The first at Smith, at 19th and Wharton on May 19. The following day, developers will head to Vare, 1619 E. Moyamensing Ave.  Then on May 29, Bok, an eight-story monster hulking over 9th and Mifflin, gets its turn.

Here are the specs on each of the buildings, listed in what we believe will be the order of interest of developers looking for apartment conversions:

1) Vare

vare school

Year built: 1903
Lot size: 42,850 sq. ft.
Building footprint: 19,424 sq. ft.
Building size: 54,000 sq. ft.
No. of stories: 3
Zoning: RSA-5
Asking Price: $2.5 million

Our take: Located across the street from Dickinson Square Park, this is by far the most desirable of the three. Residential construction in the area is booming, and a budding commercial community would love the new customers. Expect some noise about parking, though.

The district flipped the street names, so Morris is actually on the bottom.

The district flipped the street names, so Morris is actually on the bottom.

2) Smith

walter smith school

Year built: 1925
Lot size: 50,421 sq. ft.
Building footprint: 22,022 sq. ft.
Building size: 64,449 sq. ft.
No. of stories: 3
Zoning: RM-1
Asking Price: $3 million

Our take: This building is only about a block from two big proposed developments, so the appetite to develop this area is there. But those two projects got a lot of push-back ahead of a recent meeting, including a flier that claimed 300 residents with pit bulls would be moving in. We’d be surprised if this turns out to be a conversion to 100 percent market-rate apartments. Maybe senior housing? Or at least a mix of affordable and market-rate like what’s being proposed for the former Childs school at 17th and Tasker?

smith-aerial-main

3) Bok

Bok High. Pic by Bradley Maule via Hidden City

Bok High. Pic by Bradley Maule via Hidden City

Year built: 1938
Lot size: 97,985 sq. ft.
Building footprint: 78,967 sq. ft.
Building size: 338,000 sq. ft.
No. of stories: 8
Zoning: RSA-5
Asking Price: $1.7 million

Our take: This one is a long-shot. The building needs $55 million in structural repairs and its heating system is attached to Southwark Elementary’s across the street. Without significant public assistance, we’d be surprised if this doesn’t sit vacant for another five years, despite its location between two booming neighborhoods.

bok aerial

So, which one do you think will go first? Are we way off?

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3 Responses to 3 S. Philly school buildings on possible path to redevelopment as city announces open houses

  1. tsarstruck May 8, 2014 at 11:33 am #

    I created a map that has all the properties along with their asking price per square foot. A couple of things to note: outside of a weirdly highly priced M. Hall Stanton at 1523 W Cumberland (which *something* has to be different about for the price at that location to make sense), the highest price per square foot asking price are Smith and Vare, both around $46/SF. That should tell you a lot about the combination of location and physical viability for those two projects. Bok is by far the lowest, at $5/SF, which, given the close proximity of the two above, tells you more about the condition than the location.

    The low price of Bok is a prudent move by the SD and the assessors. I’m not optimistic about its development, but if the Jackson paint factory and Mt Sinai are viable (big IFs there), then Bok at a low sale price of $1.7MM might have a chance.

  2. tsarstruck May 8, 2014 at 11:34 am #

    Oops, forgot map link:
    https://mapsengine.google.com/map/edit?hl=en&authuser=0&mid=zCpGpVQ25aSM.k0D8fclyE_-k

  3. cg May 8, 2014 at 10:38 pm #

    I thought bok was going for $17 mil not 1.7?

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