Three property investors bought an abandoned high school near Pittsburgh for $100,000.
They spent 18 months, and $3.3 million, converting the former school into 31 apartments.
They retained much of the school’s original design during the renovation.
In 2019, Jesse Wig, Adam Colucci, and Dan Spanovich bought an abandoned school in Homestead, Pennsylvania, for $100,000 in an off-market deal.
Bowtie High had been abandoned for almost 10 years, but the trio believed the building had potential.
Starting in 2020, they began converting the former school into 31 apartments.
Jesse Wig, Adam Colucci, and Dan Spanovich are the investors behind the project.
The project was on hold for about a year after the trio purchased the school, as they couldn’t agree on what to do with the building.
“We were talking to some larger tenants — a gymnastic crew, a basketball crew, renting out rooms for a recording studio,” Colucci said.
They eventually decided to turn the 55,000-square-foot building near Pittsburgh into a residential complex.
It took them about 18 months to complete and cost around $3.3 million, according to Wig. They put $1.3 million in themselves and also secured a $2 million mortgage, he said.
“The beauty of this building was worth what we paid,” Colucci said.
They were only able to use about 20,000 square feet of the building for the apartments.
The trio were only able to use about 20,000 square feet of space, Colucci said, as areas including hallways, staircases, gym, and auditorium had to be preserved.
They turned most classrooms into individual apartments, while dividing some of the larger ones in two.
“I’m really happy we did it this way because the building’s so cool,” he said.
They maintained the building’s original design.
The trio reused some of the original materials from the school, such as the hardwood floors from the old auditorium.
“Preserving the history and reusing the old windows was very challenging,” Colucci said.
Spanovich said he sourced all the materials needed, and that sometimes his stress levels were “off the charts.”
The building’s “wow” factors are the auditorium and gymnasium.
“The really tall ceilings and the large windows and a handful of other features are cool,” said Wig, a 35-year-old real-estate agent and investor.
But the real “wow” factors are the auditorium, the gymnasium, big hallways, and the crown molding, he added. “The building is just unique.”
Rent for a one-bedroom apartment in the building starts at $1,400 per month.
Rents ranges from $1,150 to $1,450 a month, Spanovich said.
The apartments are equipped with stainless steel appliances, built-in washing machines and dryers, and walk-in closets.
Leasing at Bowtie High started in October 2021 and reached 100% occupancy within six months.
Residents also have access to common areas such as the auditorium, which has a shuffleboard, a TV, and a lounge area.
The building also has additional storage available to rent to store items such as bikes or sporting equipment.
The trio decided to buy another high school across the street.
The trio have since bought another school.
“Maybe I’m just a dreamer, but I knew as soon as we had that first building that we needed that second one,” Colucci said.
They acquired the second building, which is across the street from Bowtie High, for $90,000, he said.
It was in a worse state and needed a lot more money spent on it, but he said they “had to get it.”
Spanovich said he expects the trio to have spent $4 million on the renovations upon completion.
The second building will have 33 apartments.
The second building will have a rooftop deck with outdoor furniture and a billiard table, and residents will be able to use amenities from both blocks.
“There’s gonna be some good synergy,” Colucci said.
It will have 33 apartments with the same 14-foot ceiling height as the original classrooms, and concrete floors, he added.
The apartments have attracted interest from young professionals.
The apartments have attracted particular attention from young professionals or graduate students, Colucci said.
He added that they had a good mix of tenants but wanted to expand and diversify their customer base further.
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