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What's Happening in:  Pennsport 

Concordia Group proposes apartments, townhomes for shuttered Vare School

We’ve been following the sales of the shuttered Bok, Vare and Smith schools for a while now. The Bok School is set to become a huge mixed-use space, but the plans for the other two schools haven’t been as quick to come through.

vare school

According to PhillyMag, the Concordia Group, who are also behind the proposed development that will replace Mt. Sinai, now has plans to develop Abigail Vare Elementary at 1619 E. Moyamensing Ave. into 45 apartments in the former school and six new townhomes behind the school.

The 54,000 sq. ft. Vare School was sold as a five-school package deal, along with Smith at 19th and Wharton, for $6.8 million to the Concordia Group back in September.

More from PhillyMag:

City records show that the plan is to split the large single parcel–bound by Morris Street in the south, Mountain Street in the north and East Moyamensing Avenue in the west–into seven separate seven lots. The townhomes would line the Morris Street side of the property, which stretches deep into the block by way of an entrance and an elevated asphalt playing surface.  As for parking, the plan looks to call for 24 spots for cars and 15 for bicycles.

Previously String Theory Charter School had shown interest in opening a new charter school in the space.

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26 Responses to Concordia Group proposes apartments, townhomes for shuttered Vare School

  1. Atrios June 11, 2015 at 2:31 pm #

    24 parking spots for 51 units? Might as well just release Ebola into South Philly. The damage would be less.

    • Roxxy June 11, 2015 at 3:04 pm #

      Could you be more dramatic? What a ridiculous response. Parking is not a right. It is not guaranteed. If you’ve been a long time resident and had some flexibility with parking, then you were lucky and should appreciate what you had. This is best use for this property and with some tweaking to be done by the developer, will be a great addition to the neighborhood.

      • Atrios June 11, 2015 at 6:36 pm #

        was joking

      • Paul June 14, 2015 at 11:06 pm #

        Developers have the money to create enough parking and have a decent project. Your being short sighted! Parking is a problem and you know it. You must have some sort of financial interest in the project. If you don’t, you should want properly parked project.

    • Re Boland June 12, 2015 at 10:06 pm #

      Hahahaha…. great comment! Over 100 new townhouses and 45 apartment units within a few blocks of each other. Talk about parking wars. It will be WWIII. How many new houses on the corner of Moyamensing and Moore? Looks to me about another 20!

  2. Lorie June 11, 2015 at 10:21 pm #

    I think that this is horrible and that they could have done something else with that property. As far as the parking goes, it sucks. I live directly around the corner from this school and people that live in that area can’t even park in this area. Parking is horrible!!! They need to find another solution.

  3. Linda Brown June 11, 2015 at 10:36 pm #

    What the neighborhood NEEDS is a school, not more poorly built, overpriced “Townhomes”. The long time residents of Morris & Mountain Streets will be negatively affected by this endeavour for sure in my opinion!

    • Nik June 12, 2015 at 8:18 am #

      Excuse my ignorance, but what are the schooling options in Pennsport?

      • roxxy June 12, 2015 at 8:20 am #

        Zero schooling options in Pennsport!! Its a crying shame and nothing can be done to change that

      • Local June 12, 2015 at 4:32 pm #

        Slim and None!

    • roxxy June 12, 2015 at 8:19 am #

      There is no doubt or question that what this entire neighborhood needs is a school…..any school!!! But as the Archdiocese of Phila and the School District of Phila seem to have both decided that this neighborhood does not need to be educated, then a school is not going to happen. At least not anytime soon.

      What other uses for this building do you have in mind? Its never going to be a school again and it seems that you have zero interest in it being used residentially. So what else do you propose?

      The building was for sale for sometime. If something other than housing was viable, someone would have bought it for that purpose.

      As for parking……Its not a god given right. There is no ownership for spots on a residential street. That is a losing argument. We live in the city. By choice. No one moved here for the parking. The streets were designed at a time well before the endemic use of motorized vehicles. Especially some of the larger ones. People need to stop using parking in their arguments against projects. It will get you nowhere. Get more creative in your responses against development.

      • Paul June 14, 2015 at 11:11 pm #

        Parking is an valid argument! What city do you live in. There are more cars than legal spaces to park in south philly. Solve that problem before you compound it!

        • SoCrisp June 15, 2015 at 7:01 am #

          Parking is never a valid argument when debating urban development. Cities are not meant to be so resident-dependent on personal vehicles. There is this strange mentality in South Philly that every house should get to own 2+ cars, but that’s just not a sustainable way of thinking, especially if you want any growth in this city. The problem isn’t new developers not taking parking into account – it’s longtime residents being unwilling to see that their system isn’t going to work in the long run.

          • Paul June 15, 2015 at 1:01 pm #

            Just because you say parking is not a valid argument does not make it so. This entire country is car dependant! Everyone knows it is not sustainable– but here we are! What is your solution? more cars?

            The only people who can do without a car are single people with no children and retired people who have family to assist them. otherwise, you have discounted a huge amount of the population.

            Cars are a necessity and any city that doesn’t plan development correctly to take that fact into account is lowering its quality of life for its residents.

            I just love when people day its the “old, log time residents” that are opposed. But think of it this way, we made our section of the city nice. You all are just figuring that fact out. We are not going to stand by while you make neighborhoods into an urban jungle.

            Why would you argue for higher density? with no accounting for parking? you must not live in the area or are profiting in some way by these high density projects and should stay away from this blog!

            These developers have the money to design properly parked property. Don’t feel sorry for them!

            The big problem is our city councilmen writing laws which allow the projects thru the zoning code. They are working for people like you who want high density.

  4. sophilly June 12, 2015 at 4:49 pm #

    Concordia couldn’t care less about school needs in this area – the purchasing of land here is for their profit. They will degenerate further your parking dilemma because they do not live here and do not care – what they care about is $$$ at the expense of your life style. What is needed in this area is “monthly parking” for the existing taxpaying 4x bumped property owners and convenience of rental residents also. If you don’t need parking fine – but residents have lived here with a certain life style thru thick and thin and deserve consideration of their needs not to be usurped by a Maryland outfit come to take. Let your city representatives know of this crisis and tell them to do something about it – protect us from developers that refuse to integrate sensible accommodations for existing neighborhoods.

    • Roxxy June 13, 2015 at 9:34 pm #

      The group that purchased this property, or anyone who would have purchased it, can’t do a single thing about the school needs of this neighborhood!!! And a school is needed desperately! Only the SRC has the ability to determine the fate of a school or the opening of one. All passion, venom and desires of a a school need to to focused on the SRC. Blaming a company for purchasing an abandoned school building is not an answer.

      And anyone who purchases anything for a business, is interested in profit! That’s the nature of being in business. The local hoagie shop that purchases bread and meat and cheese, is doing it for profit. So, yes, this company purchased this building to make a profit. No shock in that.

      • Paul June 14, 2015 at 11:16 pm #

        So, before they profit off of our community and our life style they need to redesign their project to accommodate the community needs. The community needs parking. Why do you care about their profits? They will make money. If you live here, you should want to have less density. It sounds like you work for the developers!?!

  5. Re Boland June 12, 2015 at 9:29 pm #

    95 new townhouses at Mt Sinai plus 6 more and 45 apartments at Vare, all within a few blocks of each other? Are these people nuts? Count on most of the new tenants to have at least 1, if not 2 cars per household. Bad idea. The developer needs to cut down on the density of people he is trying to squeeze into this working class neighborhood. They are trying to turn South Philly into a new Northern Liberties. Look how they out priced the old time residents from there. I know a lot of old time residents from that neighborhood and they can’t stand what developers did. Let them take their yuppy asses elsewhere and leave us alone. I’m sick and tired of hearing, ” but it will increase the value of your house”, My house is my HOME and I don’t care what it’s worth. I have been here since it was worth 40 thousand, and hope to be able to afford the taxes when it is worth 400 thousand. It was bought not as an investment but as a home to raise my family! Pennsport Civic needs to start doing what is right for the neighborhood. If the majority doesn’t want something then fight for what THEY want. Can’t they see that all this construction is not a good thing. What will happen when the housing market crashes? Who will pay higher taxes because of all this tax abatement bullshit? I think the old neighborhood of Pennsport will never be the same if we allow this to continue.

  6. Roxxy June 13, 2015 at 9:48 pm #

    All of the construction in the area and across the city, for that matter, is happening for many reasons.
    1) people want to be here. 2) the building codes and rules and regulations, put in place by city council and the agencies of L&I and the ZBA are the controlling factors. They grant the allowances to build. No one else. 3) the tax abatements have been a wonderful advantage to the city as a whole. The work provided, the supplies purchased, the wage taxes staying in the city would all have been lost. The people that purchase these homes pay the full rate of transfer tax when purchased and do not get abatements or reductions on anything else. They pay full electric, water, gas, cable etc. They also pay a land tax from the beginiing. So abatement is not 100%. They tend to eat out more and shop more. Thus benefitting other businesses in the community. Why you are all so afraid of new is beyond reason. Do you realize that the quality of life has improved exponentially with the increased building and new residents? Many of the new residents are involved in the local parks, which have become a source of community pride.

    • Paul June 15, 2015 at 1:08 pm #

      @ROXXY – You should not speak! You absolutely are profiting in some way by this project. I question your motivation. You must not live here! Why argue against a better design?


  7. Stewie June 15, 2015 at 4:03 pm #

    When this was an operating school, how many faculty worked there? Where did they park?

  8. LOL Pennsport June 15, 2015 at 4:08 pm #

    Amazing how more of the comments are about parking than the school system. Herp derp.

    • Lou_1000 June 18, 2015 at 8:25 am #

      LOL Pennsport is right. What is really funny is how people complaining about growth (i.e. PARKING) do not understand that GROWTH is what FUNDS the school system.
      The reason you have no schools is there is no growth. Now get on the bus or get out of the way.

  9. KRC June 17, 2015 at 1:53 pm #

    This part of Pennsport really, really needs some commercial/retail spaces. Concordia failed to bring in some retail spaces at Mount Sinai, I really hope they will seriously consider some in this space. Lets hope the Pennsport Civic Ass. starts thinking a little more long term with this project than they have with Mt. Sinai, the old E-Moda space, ect.

    • Roxxy June 19, 2015 at 8:19 am #

      Im pretty sure that the plan for the E-Moda site is ALL commercial/retail. So what is your problem with that site? What different “long term” was supposed to happen there?

      Also, Mt Sinai has sat vacant for 18 years. Many plans have been attempted.

      And you are aware that civic associations have ZERO power!! A neighbor showing up to a ZBA hearing carries alot more influence than a civic assoc. So, if you have a different vision, just show up and give your opinion.

  10. Geri kephart June 18, 2015 at 8:47 pm #

    Retail space. How about the mostly vacant Pennsport Mall.

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