A Project Evolves as Former School Goes Residential in South Philly

Philadelphia is home to so many churches. And while these houses of worship still play a huge role in numerous communities, many congregations have moved out of the city or disappeared entirely, for a host of reasons. The Archdiocese hasn’t been immune to these changes, as dozens of Catholic parishes and schools in the region have shuttered or merged over the last several decades. Back in 2014, the Holy Spirit Parish merged with the St. Richard Parish, though the Holy Spirit Church at 1825 Hartranft St. has remained somewhat active in the years since. The Holy Spirit School, located behind the church, also merged with other schools by order of the Archdiocese, and its property is now in the early stages of a private development project.

Overhead view of the site
View of the church
View of the former school from Hartranft Street

A couple years ago, a developer came forward with a plan to tear down the old school building and construct 34 town homes on the land of the school building and its associated parking lot. For whatever reason, that concept fell by the wayside, as the image above would indicate. Instead, the developers have pivoted to a plan that calls for the renovation of the old school building and the creation of 21 apartments inside. The rest of the parking lot will also pick up some new buildings, with 11 homes and a 16-unit apartment building. In all, the project calls for a total of 48 new units in a part of town that doesn’t seen a heck of a lot of new construction.

Closer view of the construction
Plenty of parking lot

With the renovation of the school building well underway, we have every reason to expect the rest of the project will move forward as well, with the new construction following behind the renovation as a second construction phase. We’d imagine that the apartments, both in the new building and the former school, will be offered for rent, while the homes will be listed for sale. The access to the homes will be a little unusual, since none of them will have any street frontage, but if that’s the price of replacing a big asphalt parking lot with homes, we’ll call it a win. Speaking of wins, we’re also pleased that the developers are able to keep the existing school building as part of the development. Not that the building is such an architectural gem, but we’re always cheered when developers are able to make reuse work financially, if for no other reason than to save some trees and landfill space.