Old School Getting Converted to 29 Residential Units + Offices in Harrowgate

The George L. Horn School in Harrowgate

Harrowgate is a neighborhood surrounding the Tioga El Station that abuts the big box commercial strip of Aramingo Avenue. Artisans have begun to move to the neighborhood and set up shop in converted warehouses nearby. Supporting amenities are beginning to sprout in the area.

Many people think that development pressure from East Kensington may jump right to Harrowgate and skip the area between Somerset and Allegheny because of that neighborhood’s opioid epidemic. The belief is that Harrowgate will see large scale development before northeast Kensington, even though it is farther away geographically from Center City and gentrified neighborhoods such as Fishtown. We will have to watch and see how this plays out, but there are definitely already some new development projects surrounding Frankford Avenue between Somerset and Allegheny. We have also seen a ton of warehouse conversions into artist spaces and other redevelopments on Kensington Avenue in Harrowgate. So, both neighborhoods are seeing some development action already. Our belief is that value will be realized in most neighborhoods surrounding quality public transportation in the coming decades. However, we cannot predict what neighborhood will pop first. Only time will tell.

Aerial view of the George L. Horn School building in Harrowgate at 3701 Frankford Ave.

The George L. Horn School building stands in Harrowgate at the intersection of Frankford Ave. and Castor Ave. on a 38,247 square foot Industrial Residential Mixed-Use (IRMX) zoned lot. The school was built in 1903 and was designated on the National Register of Historic Places in 1986. The school was renamed the Sheridan West Academy at some point, but was closed in 2013. The hulking, stone, Gothic Revival building’s playground area is surrounded by a beautiful wrought iron fence, likely original to the school.

There were plans to turn the structure back into an educational facility in 2017. However, developers with different plans purchased the property in August of 2018 for $1.9 million. In May of 2019, use permits were pulled for the rehabilitation of the school building and the erection of an addition. The project will contain 4 office spaces, 29 residential units, a gymnasium, 13 car parking spots, and 10 bike spaces. This is all by-right since the parcel is zoned IRMX. The company Stronghold Development & Construction is behind the project.

We could not be happier. A historic building is being saved and residential density is being added to a growing neighborhood near public transit. We look forward to seeing the project move forward. We have not seen any renderings of the addition, but hope the developers are respectful to the historic building. The inclusion of office space is also a fantastic aspect of the project. Successful neighborhoods need a balance of residential uses, commercial uses, and office uses. All of these uses play off of each other to attract more people to the area throughout the day. A bedroom community with no commercial activity will not succeed long-term as residents want places to eat, drink, and socialize near their homes. It is also difficult for commercial businesses to succeed if there is no one in the surrounding neighborhood during the day while residents are at work. Bringing office workers to a neighborhood helps with that problem. What kind of businesses would you like to see open in these office spaces? How do you feel about the conversion of this school?

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