Last week, we gave you some details on the old Smith School in Point Breeze, which is currently being offered for sale along with a bunch of other shuttered schools around town. Today we look at the former Edward Bok Technical High School, located at 8th & Mifflin. It represents a very different opportunity than that offered by the Smith School. It also has its share of challenges.
The school was built between 1935 and 1938, according to Wikipedia, and was designed by Irwin Catharine. Its construction was part of the Public Works Administration, created as part of the New Deal. Built as a vocational school, Bok taught bricklayers, hair dressers, tailors, carpenters, and other tradespeople over the years. In more recent years, the program at Bok shifted to educate kids in a more well-rounded way, but specialization remained the m.o. here until the school closed last summer.
The school itself is massive and extremely unique. At some points rising eight stories up, the building has about 338,000 sqft of interior space. It takes up almost all of the lot upon which it sits. Architecturally, it has numerous Art Deco flourishes, and was listed on the US National Register of Historic Places. And if you walk around the exterior, you can quickly appreciate why it's listed.
Whoever purchases this building will have rather limited options in terms of redevelopment. We can only think of two options- a charter school or apartments. A school could certainly make use of the building, though its size is probably too great for any one school. Could two schools perhaps share it? Alternately, a residential conversion seems reasonable though it would be incredibly complex and expensive. We can only speculate, but we'd have to imagine that the building is full of asbestos. And with its historic designation, changes to the exterior could be complicated. On the other hand, it might be eligible for historic tax credits, which might lessen the load for a possible developer. Also, loath as we are to bring it up, there's pretty much no way to include parking with a residential conversion. We imagine the near neighbors would bang that drum if a developer were to propose apartments in the Bok building.
The asking price is $1.7M, and the deadline to submit a bid is June 9th. If you're interested, time is running out!