Bok and Vare schools listed as having ‘pending’ sales

The official school district website that was set up to unload several shuttered buildings lists Bok High School and Vare Elementary as having “pending” sales.

We don’t know yet what the proposals entail, and it turns out that the designation may not be entirely accurate.

Bok High. Pic by Bradley Maule via Hidden City
Bok High. Pic by Bradley Maule via Hidden City

vare school

Sources tell us that, in the case of Bok, at least, the school district received several offers after it hosted open houses for developers in May. Bok and its 338,000 square feet, at 9th and Mifflin, were listed for $1.7 million, and Vare’s parkside 54,000 square feet was listed for $2.5 million.

The “pending” part of this apparently occurred because the district has narrowed down the offers to a very short list of suitors, possibly two a piece, and wanted to discourage additional interest. We’ve reached out to the district for more info but haven’t heard back yet from a spokesman.

Bok’s relatively low list price reflected the worry that several talking heads expressed last year whether it would be too expensive to redevelop. The building reportedly needed $55 million in structural repairs, and it’s heating system is still connected to Southwark Elementary’s across the street.

Vare seems poised for an obvious conversion to apartments, at least that’s what we think. But once we find out more solid info — like if there will be any public meetings to help vet these proposals — we’ll let you know.

12 thoughts on “Bok and Vare schools listed as having ‘pending’ sales

  • August 6, 2014 at 9:58 am

    The selling these schools makes little sense, particularly when charters are spending money to build their own schools in the city at the same time. Not an efficient use of money toward developing our city’s education system. Time to get the control out of the state legislature’s hands and into the school district’s.

  • August 6, 2014 at 10:47 am

    @mjg: Let me guess, you’re a member of the teachers union?

    What charter school could possibly efficiently make use of a space the size of Bok?! Selling it and repurposing it (CONDOS!) is by far the smartest move.

    • August 9, 2014 at 1:27 am

      yes Anthony, let us sell our public assets into private hands at rock bottom prices.

  • August 6, 2014 at 11:06 am

    As long as they don’t get tax abatements.

  • August 6, 2014 at 11:33 am

    Bok as a mixed use site would elevate the surrounding neighborhood. I think it is a great idea! Has anyone wandered in that part of the neighborhood? Keep the development coming is all i can say.

  • August 6, 2014 at 1:57 pm

    Both Bok and Vare (and many other older Philadelphia city schools) are National Register listed, making them great tax credit project candidates.

  • August 6, 2014 at 3:23 pm

    Redevelopment of Bok has the potential to transform this neighborhood, where I live. Sandwiched in between Passyunk and Pennsport, which are stable/solid/growing, this area is struggling with poor property conditions, too many vacant properties and all the trash South Philly has to offer. Using Bok to create mixed use, mixed income development could make a huge impact for the people in the neighborhood. Availability of affordable units for low income folks could push some slumlords in the area to improve their rentals to compete for tenants. I hope something moves forward soon. And it will get 10-year tax abatements ATrane, all new development and substantial rehab does (unless the ordinance is changed, which does not look likely anytime soon).

  • August 6, 2014 at 7:16 pm

    There is plenty of available affordable housing in this area. Bok should be developed as mixed use commercial/residential with only market rate units. There is no need for affordable housing here.

    • August 7, 2014 at 8:05 am

      There is most certainly a lack of affordable 1-BR and 2-BR units…..or any at all.

      • August 7, 2014 at 9:39 am

        I guess that depends on what you consider to be “affordable”. The briefest search reveals that there are 1 bedrooms for well under 1000 and 2 bedrooms in the 900-1200 range. That seems very affordable to me for the area.

    • August 9, 2014 at 1:30 am

      nemes1s, since it is a public building, it should be affordable housing.

      • August 9, 2014 at 8:09 pm

        @asdf. No problem. Since it’s a public building have the city spend the money repairing it and bringing it up to code then have the city renovate and market the affordable housing units. Do they have money to do that? No they don’t. That’s why it’s for sale to the highest private bidder who should be able to do with it whatever they want within the current zoning regulations. You want affordable housing you pay for it.

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