This Abandoned School Became a Dazzling Luxury Rental

A group of in-the-know friends banded together in 2019 to buy an abandoned high school for just $100,000, which they later turned into a 31-unit apartment complex — complete with fanciful amenities.

Jesse Vig, a 34-year-old real estate agent, first saw opportunity when the school — located in Homestead, Pennsylvania — was listed for sale that same year.

A 35-year-old investor, Adam Colucci, then got involved and considered several options for the building – including a wedding venue, a beer garden and even a WeWork space.

Dan Spanovich, a 41-year-old developer and multifamily property manager, decided to team up with his friends when Colucci and Vig asked for their help.

Dan Spanovich (left), Jesse Vig (middle) and Adam Colucci (right) purchased the abandoned high school in 2019.
Dan Spanovich (left), Jesse Vig (middle) and Adam Colucci (right) purchased the abandoned high school in 2019.

Three years later, the building now has 27 one-bedroom apartments and four two-bedroom units for up to $1,650 a month. Each modern constructed apartment has in-unit washer and dryer.

Vig explained, “I was informed about the school and, to be very honest, I wasn’t sure what made the most sense to do with the building.” cnbc make it, “But for that price, I had to get it and hope we can come up with a good alternative in the future.”

“We had big eyes, and after two years of spinning our wheels, we finally listened to the many RE professionals who told us that eventually all roads lead to residential,” Colucci said.

“Replacing these old buildings can be very challenging,” Spanovich said. “We were willing to take the risk regardless of what we would use it for. We knew that at this cost, we would be able to find some use for it that would generate enough returns to satisfy everyone.

The building had been abandoned for years, and it took some time to draw up the floor plans.

What were once classrooms have been converted into apartments – and what was once the school auditorium has been converted into a shared lounge space.

There is a full gym on the ground floor, including half court basketball, free weights and Peloton bikes.

The exterior of the abandoned high school.
The exterior of the abandoned high school.
alexis zakis
The high school was converted into 29 one-bedroom apartments and two two-bedroom apartments.
The high school was converted into 27 one-bedroom apartments and four two-bedroom apartments.
alexis zakis
Before and after photos of the auditorium now converted into a shared living space.
Before and after photos of the auditorium, now converted into a shared living space.
Tyler Norman

The partners were expected to get around 60 apartments, spread over 50,000 sq ft. But in the end, he was left with only 25,000 square feet of leasable square feet.

The large hallways, stairways, gym, and auditorium eventually took up too much space.

Colucci said of the building, “We worked very closely with the National Park Services to make sure it had historic value.” “We went out of our way to ensure that the school maintained its historic appearance.”

The partners received historic tax credits from the federal level and from Pennsylvania, but would not disclose the exact amount.

New lobby area.
New lobby area.
TIC Toc
shared space.
shared space.
TIC Toc
Before photos of the auditorium.
Before photos of the auditorium.
TIC Toc

Six months after the apartment building became functional, it was fully leased out. All profits and expenses are divided among the three partners.

However, the idea didn’t just stop at this one abandoned school. After acknowledging the success of his first investment, he bought the school across the street, which he bought in August 2020 for just $90,000.

“When the buildings look good, you get so many people bidding on them, so you almost wish they looked like haunted houses, so you have less competition,” Spanovich quipped.

The partners shared renderings of what the apartments in the second building would look like.
The partners shared renderings of what the apartments in the second building would look like.
Jessie Vig

His plan for the second school is to convert it into 33 housing units, mostly one-bedroom options and a few two-bedroom units.

“Someone once told me you’ll go broke buying beautiful 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.”

All three partners explained that they wanted residents to have full access to all facilities including an auditorium/gymnasium in the first school, a double-decker parking garage, billiards room and a roof deck in the second building.

“It’s been rewarding and rewarding to see the improvement in the community,” said Vig, who lives locally.

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