Abandoned High School Bought for $100K Is Transformed Into Stunning Apartment Building

High School in Pennsylvania

With the right vision, an abandoned building can have a second life. In 2019, Jesse Wig saw the opportunity to turn an empty high school in Homestead, Pennsylvania, into a completely new type of space. The sellers were asking $100,000 for the 50,000-square-foot building. The 34-year-old real estate agent bought it, unsure of what he’d do with it. Three years later, it’s now known as Bowtie High, a 31-unit luxury apartment building.

While Wig didn't know what he’d make of the space when he first bought it, he knew that the price was right and bet on the fact he’d come up with a good idea in the future. He connected with Adam Colucci, a 35-year-old real estate investor, and the men went back and forth for two years trying to decide what to do with the old school. They considered a co-working space, wedding venue, and beer garden before deciding to take the residential route.

Once they decided to transform the building into apartments, the men brought on Dan Spanovich as another partner. As a full-time developer and multifamily property manager, he helped them navigate the tricky conversion process.

The resulting transformation turned the classrooms into contemporary, open-concept apartments complete with in-unit washers and dryers. The auditorium was made into a community space, and the gym has a half-basketball court lined with Peloton bikes.

Beyond making it a comfortable living space, it was important for the trio to ensure that the building kept some elements of its former life. “We worked closely with the National Park Services to ensure it kept its historical significance,” Colucci said. “We went out of our way to ensure the school kept its historical look.”

Bowtie High began leasing in October 2021 and reached 100% occupancy after six months. After a successful renovation, the three are back at it and purchased more schools to renovate and bring back into the community in a new way.

Jesse Wig bought an abandoned high school for $100,000 and with two other partners converted it into stunning apartments.

@jessewig Bowtie High. Before/After. #realestate #realtor #realestateinvesting #beforeandafter ♬ Inspiring Emotional Piano – Metrow Ar

Lockers were replaced with custom wainscotting and the auditorium was made into a large common space.

Bowtie High Apartments

Bowtie High Apartments

Bowtie High Apartments

The gym has a half basketball court.

Bowtie High Apartments

Bowtie High Apartments

Bowtie High Apartments

The transformation includes contemporary, open-concept apartments.

Bowtie High Apartments

Bowtie High Apartments

Bowtie High Apartments

Bowtie High: Website

My Modern Met granted permission to feature photos by Jesse Wig.

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Sara Barnes

Sara Barnes is a Staff Editor at My Modern Met, Manager of My Modern Met Store, and co-host of the My Modern Met Top Artist Podcast. As an illustrator and writer living in Seattle, she chronicles illustration, embroidery, and beyond through her blog Brown Paper Bag and Instagram @brwnpaperbag. She wrote a book about embroidery artist Sarah K. Benning titled 'Embroidered Life' that was published by Chronicle Books in 2019. Sara is a graduate of the Maryland Institute College of Art. She earned her BFA in Illustration in 2008 and MFA in Illustration Practice in 2013.
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