The ZBA approved a major residential plan last week at 1920 E. Orleans St., the former Willard Elementary School. We've covered a few projects on this side of Lehigh Avenue in recently years, but those have all been south of Frankford Avenue in Port Richmond. This project will be happening in Harrowgate, a neighborhood that doesn't generally come up in discussions about real estate development because there ain't much to disucss. As such, we were quite surprised to learn that the former school would be redeveloped.

View from Orleans St.

From Birch St.

Doing a wee bit of research, we began to understand the situation a little more clearly. According to Newsworks, Project HOME bought the property last summer for $400K. The permits indicate that they're planning to build a five-story addition in the former parking lot with 24 apartments and some office space. The existing building will be renovated and will contain an additional 33 apartments. The project will also include 11 parking spaces and 19 bike parking spaces.

We can't find much more info, but we'd have to imagine that these units will be rented out at affordable rates, like every other Project HOME development we've seen in the last few years. In a city with a huge shortage of affordable housing, we're generally big fans of the work done by Project HOME, and with their reuse of a wonderful old building this project seems like a win-win. Compared to some of the surrounding blocks, this building is a beacon of architectural hope for the neighborhood and it's great to learn that it'll be sticking around.

Residential block across the street