$24 Million Loan Arranged for Redevelopment of Former West Philadelphia High School
The redevelopment of the former West Philadelphia High School into an apartment building has been talked about for some time–the better part of four years–but there has been little to no movement on the project. It looks as though that could soon change.
Colliers International announced today that the company has arranged a $24 million loan for “the acquisition and redevelopment” of the shuttered school building at 47th and Walnut.
Strong Place Partners (SSP), a Brooklyn-based development company, had sought to turn the shuttered school building into a mixed-use property consisting of 298 loft-style apartments with ground floor retail. The firm first presented their plans back in 2012, and expected the building to be move-in ready by 2016.
Though the Office of Property Assessment still shows the School District of Philadelphia as the owner of the building, it lists WPHS Venture Partners LLC as the mailing address; its Brooklyn street address leads to a company called Heights Advisors. Their website describes the project at 4700 Walnut as a “gut rehabilitation,” and states construction will commence in 2017. Representatives from Heights Advisors were not immediately available for comment.
So what’s been the hold up?
“The borrower wanted to purchase and reposition the former school located in West Philadelphia near University City,” said Kristopher Wood of Colliers International Capital Markets in a release, who along with CICM’s John Banas arranged the loan. “Getting a construction loan was challenging because this was the first development the New York developer had done in Philadelphia, and many thought the location was not ready for 298 new apartments.”
A lot has changed in four years, to say the least. Developers are betting big that University City will continue its ascension onto the national scene as a force for eds, meds, and technology, and they’ve been lining up multiple apartment projects to accommodate the influx of young professionals.
Post Brothers recently dished out $250 million to acquire and renovate multiple aging apartment buildings all over West Philadelphia. Southern Land Co. and Radnor Property Group just opened their swanky high-rises near the University City Science Center, whose rebranding to uCity Square will see more apartments come as the site gets built out.
As for West Philly High School, interior demolition permits were issued in January 2015 to Harman Deutsch Architecture, and later modified in June. A rep from the Philly-based architecture firm wasn’t immediately available for comment.