In the Books: Sale of Bok High School Finalized, Development Moving Forward
There’s a sleeping giant on the corner of 9th and Mifflin in South Philly. Wait, scratch that. The former Edward Bok Technical High School, simply known as Bok, actually takes up the entire block between 8th and 9th on Mifflin Street. Though the hulking school has been vacant for a few years, Lindsey Scannapieco and her development company, Scout Ltd., has big plans to turn it into a hub for creative people.
Those plans took a massive step today as Scout announced it has officially closed on the building in a $1.75 million deal. The ambitious redevelopment plan includes opening up the 340,000-square-foot (over 5 football fields) Art Deco building for various creative, community and entrepreneurial uses. A key element will also be reintroducing life back to the block. A press release states that Scout will “invest approximately $25 million into the redevelopment” of the property.
When completed, it will be the largest mixed-use building in Philadelphia targeted towards the creative community.
“Closing on the building enables us to take the strategy and vision we have been working on tirelessly for the last six months and start to make it a reality. We are looking forward to rolling up our sleeves and getting the building cared for again,” said Lindsey Scannapieco, Scout’s Managing Partner, in a press release.
Initial plans seek to reactivate the street experience. Scout was recently named among the winners of The Knight Foundation’s “Knight Cities Challenge” grant, which awarded nearly $150,000 for Scannapieco and crew to establish “South Philly’s Stoop.” The program will liven up the dead zones around the school into an engaging “community living room” that will start to bring Bok back to life.
One of the more intriguing elements of the plan is to open the roof terraces for public use. The size of the building is pretty much unrivaled in the area, and the views from these terraces are sure to be fantastic (as evidenced by these photos from Conrad Benner).
Bok was one of 20 shuttered school listed for sale by the Philadelphia School District in 2014. Various plans for these buildings are now starting to come to light, including Temple’s vision for the former William Penn High School and Concordia’s plans for Abigail Vare school in Pennsport, not too far from Bok. PSD (through PIDC) selected Scout’s bid for the property in September 2014. Scannapieco anticipates phase one of construction (activating the ground floor with “innovative tenants”) to begin in January 2016.