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February 09, 2016

Historic West Philly High to be converted into multifamily apartments

Brooklyn-based developer secures $24 million financing for project at 4700 Walnut St.

Development Apartments
020916_WestPhillyHighSchool Contributed Art/Creative Commons

Historic West Philadelphia High School building at 4700 Walnut St.

The historic West Philadelphia High School building, constructed in 1911 along an entire block at 4700 Walnut Street, will be renovated into a multifamily apartment complex thanks to $24 million in financing. The funds were obtained by Brooklyn-based developer Heights Advisors.

The late Gothic revival building, listed on the National Register of Historic Places, formerly served as home to the Promise Academy now located at 4901 Chestnut Street. It was Philadelphia's first secondary school located west of the Schuylkill River and its Passion Field, still in use for athletic programs today, was an influential home baseball venue for local teams in the Negro National League and Eastern Colored League during the 1930s.

The $24 million Heights Advisors loan for the acquisition and redevelopment of the building was arranged by Philadelphia-based Colliers International Capital Markets, marking the Brooklyn developer's first project in Philadelphia. As currently planned, Heights Advisors will convert the four-story building into a 442,500-square foot multifamily property with 298 apartments.

“Getting a construction loan was challenging because ... many thought the location was not ready for 298 new apartments," said Kristopher wood of Colliers International. "CICM sourced a loan from a national Real Estate lender who took the time to understand what was happening in University City and what a great opportunity such a large building afforded the developer to build.”

Work on the rehabilitation project is expected to begin in 2017.