Real estate agent Jesse Wig said he bought the school, based in Homestead, Pennsylvania, in May 2019 during a recent interview with CNBC Make It. While trying to decide what to do with the space, he connected with Adam Colucci, a real estate investor.
“I was made aware of the school, and to be very honest, I wasn’t sure what made the most sense to do with the building,” he said. “But for that price, I had to acquire it and hoped we could come up with a good option in the future.”
Colucci then explained that after “two years” of going back and forth on what to do, they ultimately decided to turn the high school into a “residential” space. So, they reached out to Dan Spanovich, a developer and multifamily property manager, for help.
Although Spanovich said that he knew that converting the high school would be “a challenge,” he and his peers were up for it.
“We were willing to take a risk regardless of what use we would have for it,” he explained. “We knew that at this cost, we would be able to find some use for it that would generate enough return to satisfy everybody.”
As a result of the renovation, the former high school classrooms turned into modern apartments, with washer and dryers in units, and the auditorium became a shared living room space. Wig, Colucci, and Spanovich also built a gym on the ground floor with a half basketball court, Peleton bikes, and weights.
Despite all the changes that were made, Colucci expressed that it was important for certain parts of the high school to look the same.
“We worked closely with the National Park Services to ensure it kept its historical significance,” he said. “We went out of our way to ensure the school kept its historical look.”
As noted by CNBC, the group received “historic tax credits from the federal level and the state of Pennsylvania” when making the renovations. However, they wouldn’t disclose exactly how much.
Construction started at the beginning of 2020 and was completed by October 2021.
The building now has 27 one-bedroom apartments and four two-bedroom apartments, along with solar panels on the roof. Apartments were up for rent by October 2021 and all filled with tenants after six months.
Spanovich said that rent is $1,400 a month for a one-bedroom apartments and $1,650 a month for 2-bedroom units.
While this project may be done, the group said that they purchased their second school in August 2020 for $90,000. However, this new property has needed some major adjustments, including fixing a leaky roof.
Despite the challenging renovation, these three millennials plan to create 33 residential units, with mainly one-bedrooms and studios, in this second high school.
“Someone once told me that ‘you’ll go broke falling in love with beautiful old buildings, so be careful,’” Colucci said. “Luckily, we have Dan on our team, and he was able to figure out the logistics to make it work.”
According to CNBC, Wig, Colucci, and Spanovich have bought two more schools since their interview with the publication in September.
Wig also addressed the best part about doing these projects, explaining: “It has been rewarding and beneficial to see the community improve.”
The Independent has contacted Wig for comment.