Old School in Pennsport Converted into 42 Residential Units


Pennsport is a growing neighborhood in South Philadelphia. The old-school, historically Irish neighborhood is famous for its abundance of Mummers clubhouses and the Mummers Museum on Two Street. We have seen a ton of development in Pennsport over the last several years. Infills and large new construction projects dot the area’s landscape.

The beautiful stone Abigail Vare School, built in 1904, stands proudly overlooking Dickinson Square Park on the western side of Pennsport. The school was shut down by the School District of Philadelphia in 2013 and then sold to Concordia Group along with 4 other schools in 2014 for $6.8 million. City records show that the Abigail Vare School was sold again in 2017 for $2 million. The Concordia Group website mentions that a “joint venture between The Concordia Group and HOW Properties acquired The Abigail Vare School in the spring of 2017.”

The Abigail Vare School sits on a 33,762 square foot RSA-5 lot, which only allows single family households by-right. In 2015, after purchasing the property, Concordia was granted zoning variances to convert the school into a multi-family apartment and build townhouses on the school’s parking lot. In November of 2017, the development partners were granted alteration permits to convert the school building into 42 dwelling units. Five townhouses were built on the eastern side of the property and sold in late 2018 for between $656k and $723k.

The townhouses that were part of the project

The apartments at the Abigail Vare School were listed for rent in early 2019. The listing pictures look great, with many architectural features preserved. Original tin ceilings, molding, hardwood floors, and transom windows give the apartments a ton of character that is lacking in most new construction. Some of the slate classroom chalkboards were also incorporated into the units. Modern finishes grace the kitchens and bathrooms.

Interior view of Abigail Vare School apartment
Interior view of Abigail Vare School apartment

We are big fans of this project. A historic building was saved and re-used. Residential density was added to a growing neighborhood that has seen house prices and rents increase drastically over the last several years. This project differs greatly from Concordia’s other large development in Pennsport, which included the demolition of the old Mount Sinai Hospital for the construction of 91 townhouses. We would have loved to have seen some of the earlier plans for Mt. Sinai proceed, which included adaptive reuse of the old hospital building into apartments.

How do you feel about the conversion of the Abigail Vare School? Are you glad it was saved? Do you welcome the new residential density in the neighborhood?

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