A group of savvy friends banned together to buy an abandoned high school for just $100,000 in 2019, which they then turned into a 31-unit apartment complex — complete with dreamy amenities.
Jesse Wig, a 34-year-old real estate agent himself, first saw the opportunity when the school — located in Homestead, Pennsylvania — listed for sale that same year.
Adam Colucci, a 35-year-old investor, then joined in 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 Wig asked for his help.
After Spanovich joined, they eventually came to the decision to turn the building into a residential property. The Post has reached out to the trio for comment.
Three years later, the building now features 27 one-bedroom homes and four two-bedroom units for up to $1,650 a month. Each modern-built apartment has a washer and dryer.
“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,” Wig told CNBC’s Make It. “But for that price, I had to acquire it and hoped we could come up with a good option in the future.”
“We had big eyes, and after two years of spinning our wheels, all the professionals told us that the end of the road is going to be residential,” Colucci added.
“These old buildings can be very challenging to convert,” Spanovich said. “We were willing to take a risk regardless of what use we would have for it. We knew that at this cost, we would be able to find some use for it that would generate enough return to satisfy everybody.”
The building had been abandoned for years, and it took some time to lay out the floor plan.
What once were classrooms have now been converted to apartments — and what was the school’s auditorium has been transformed into a shared lounge space.
On the ground floor is a state-of-the-art full gym, which includes a half basketball court, weights and Peloton bikes.
Spanning 50,000 square feet, the partners were hoping to get about 60 apartments. But in the end they were left with only 25,000 square feet of leasable square footage.
The large hallways, staircases, gym and auditorium had taken up too much space in the end.
“We worked closely with the National Park Services to ensure it kept its historical significance,” Colucci said of the building. “We went out of our way to ensure the school kept its historical look.”
The partners received historic tax credits from the federal level and from Pennsylvania, but wouldn’t disclose the exact amount.
Six months after the apartment building was functional, it had been fully leased. All profits and expenses have been split evenly among all three partners.
The idea, however, did not just stop at this one abandoned school. After acknowledging the success of their first investment, they went on to purchase two more schools.
They bought one of them in August 2020 for just $90,000. But this building had more competition.
“When the buildings look nice, you got a lot of people bidding on them, so you almost want them to look like haunted houses, so you have less competition,” Spanovich quipped.
Their plan for the second school is to turn it into 33 residential units with mostly one-bedroom options and some studios.
“Someone once told me that 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 want residents to have full access to all the amenities, including the auditorium in the first school, a double-decker parking garage and a rooftop deck in the second building.
“It has been rewarding and beneficial to see the community improve,” Wig said.
Ex-Brit turned Manhattan resident since 2008.