When a reader gave us a shout to let us know about some renovation activity happening at 2221 N. Broad St., just a couple blocks north of Temple University, we assumed that this was just one more example of developers looking to capitalize on the student housing boom in the neighborhood. And we were totally off base. First, let's consider the building itself. It appears it was used as office space most recently, though we'd imagine it was originally built for something much more interesting.

View in the past

In the immediate vicinity there are a number of truly gorgeous old Victorian homes, some of which are in disrepair while others are now broken up into student apartments. This building doesn't have the same detail as many neighbors, but it still possesses a certain industrial sensibility, and its height makes it stand out among the surrounding buildings on North Broad Street. So… perhaps you're wondering what's happening here, if student housing isn't on the menu?

Building under construction

Clearer view

It won't be student housing, but the building will soon be used regularly by students. A little over a year ago, the SRC approved five new charters in Philadelphia, one of which was the Tech Freire Charter School. Opening in the fall, this school will accommodate 300 students, grades 9-12, and will focus on "individual freedom, critical thinking, and problem solving in an environment that emphasizes the values of community, teamwork, and nonviolence." Sounds like a fine place to go to high school. And it seems like a very reasonable use for this large building, which we're incredibly happy to see get reused instead of demoed and replaced with uninspired student housing.

Oh, and please forgive us for the images, which look like we smeared Vaseline on our iPhone. With the sunset lighting yesterday, we couldn't get the images to look the way we wanted. But you still get the idea.