Luxury apartments move into former Schenley High School
April 7, 2017 12:00 AM
A view of the former Schenley High School. The building has been transformed into Schenley Apartments.
By Molly Born / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
“A truly unique historic property modernized to exceed your expectations,” says the Craigslist ads for the new Schenley Apartments. Oh, and it used to be Schenley High School.
Maybe it’s obvious to longtime Pittsburghers. The limestone building in Oakland, constructed in the shape of a triangle in 1916, was the city’s first public high school. Its teachers included future Pulitzer Prize-winning writer Willa Cather and graduates Andy Warhol, George Benson and Derrick Albert Bell Jr., Harvard Law School’s first black tenured professor.
But since the school closed in 2008, it has been a flashpoint, creating sparks between people who wanted to see it remain a high school and those who said it was no longer suitable to house students of today.
But that matters little to people interested in renting one of its 180 luxury apartments set to open in July. Rents for one-bedroom, one-bathroom units start at $1,295 a month and two-bedroom, two-bath units at $1,995. Two large lofty apartments with lots of natural light from tall windows cost $3,500 a month.
PMC Property Group of Philadelphia says it tried to preserve the best architectural details of the century-old building, including slate chalkboards, narrow-plank hardwood floors, classroom doors, long hallways and wide stairwells. Each apartment offers a kitchen with granite counter tops, stainless-steel appliances, under-mounted sinks, breakfast bar and washer and dryer, just like PMC’s other six properties in Western Pennsylvania.
“The building has a lot of history to it,” said PMC senior vice president Louise Giordano.
Workers salvaged part of the original gym floor, and reused it to create a large basketball court flanked by a bocce court. A two-story gym space features a large blue slide. The company also plans a lounge, movie theater and outdoor patio with a giant chess set to create a sense of community.
“That’s what we’re trying to help promote,” Ms. Giordano said.
Another added bonus: Schenley was a “green” building ahead of its time, said Vivian Loftness of Carnegie Mellon's School of Architecture in a 2008 op-ed piece in the Post-Gazette
“Some of the most significant characteristics of sustainable, green and healthy schools are embodied in our own Schenley High School,” including natural ventilation, ample daylight and the “grand stair and generous corridors that support visual connections” between people, she wrote.
As of late March, seven units had been rented. PMC officials said employees of the nearby University of Pittsburgh and UPMC hospitals have been among those expressing interest.
Parking is available for $125 per month for an outdoor spot and $175 per month for the indoor garage. Tenants are responsible for water, electric and cable/Internet.
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