Dickinson Lofts Turns an Old Convent Into Rental Apartments

A couple years back, we told you about a potential adaptive reuse project at 2922 Dickinson St., more commonly known as the Saint Gabriel convent. This building was constructed in 1914 and and inhabited by nuns for generations, through the heyday of the Saint Gabriel Parish on the north side of the 2900 block of Dickinson. As you’re surely aware, the Catholic church isn’t quite the presence in Philadelphia that it once was, and even as the Archdiocese has consolidated two other parishes into St. Gabriel’s and the associated school enjoys strong enrollment, the convent fell out of use. And so like many other church properties in recent years, this one went on the market, and developers bought it for $1.2M in 2019.

Saint Gabriel Parish
View of the building

The building sits at the corner of Hollywood & Dickinson, and it’s seen from that corner in the image above. It’s shaped like a backwards ‘L,’ with a courtyard at the corner of Myrtlewood & Dickinson. The wall around the courtyard looked pretty rough a couple years back, but the trees in the courtyard looked pretty lush.

The courtyard, in the past

When we covered this property previously, we told you that the developers were looking to convert it into a 20-unit apartment building. For whatever reason, the property was zoned for single-family use, even though it was essentially an apartment building for nuns for many years. We’re never sure whether the ZBA will grant a variance, but in this case it certainly seemed like a solid case for a hardship, as the building would be a ridiculous single family home and demolition of the building would be the only path toward a conforming use for the property. We should also mention, the building is quite attractive and dates back over a century, but isn’t on the Historic Register. Kind of a cool thing, seeing a nice building like this rehabbed and reused instead of demoed, especially without a legal obligation to do so.

Long story short, the ZBA said ok and the developers renovated the convent into their planned 20-unit apartment building. Their work appears to be complete, with studios, one-bedroom, and two-bedroom units renting at prices ranging from $1195 to $1750. The units appear to be pretty standard rehab rental units, but from looking at the listings it doesn’t appear that there were any old details that stuck around through the renovation. That being said, several of the units have balconies, which is a nice tough, and all of the residents of the building have access to the renovated courtyard, which looks pretty great.

Courtyard view
Courtyard view

If you’d like to learn more about the units in the building or check out some interior images, you can click here. When you visit the website (or if you look at the sign on the partially cleaned and partially rebuilt exterior wall), you’ll see that the project is called Dickinson Lofts, though it appears that none of the units are actually lofts. Like we always say, Dickinson Lofts is neither Dickins’ son, nor lofts. Discuss.

Talk amongst yourselves

Our apologies to our Millennial readers for that reference from the early 1990s.

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