The re-opening of the shuttered Roberts Vaux High School is a story of a bold vision to catalyze the rebirth of a neighborhood through the preservation, restoration and adaptation this impressive edifice. Now known as the Vaux Community Building, the owner used its wholly-owned instrumentality, the Philadelphia Housing Authority Development Corporation (PHADC), to purchase the historic building in North Philadelphia in May 2017 from the School District of Philadelphia to be repurposed into this vital community center.

PHA has committed between $10 and $15 million investment into the Vaux Community Building. The reopening and restoration of the building is part of a larger neighborhood transformation plan which calls for the development of more than 1,200 mixed income rental and homeownership units in ten phases. 

The plan includes new commercial and educational facilities, an employment readiness program, small business development, and other services designed to benefit existing and new residents. The total investment under the transformation plan is estimated at over $500 million, with an economic impact of over $1 billion.

The community clinic will be staffed by advanced practice nurses, that is, nurse practitioners and clinical nurse specialists. These professionals have expertise in health promotion, disease management, group intervention work, and family based care. Once the clinic is established, engaging other Temple University College of Public Health disciplines and their students, including physical, occupational and speech therapy, social work and public health educators, will be possible. The goal is to support and promote well-being that meets the needs, values and preferences of the individual, family and community.

The restoration of the Vaux Community Building demonstrates that inner city neighborhoods can have high quality schools of choice and other high quality services through public/private partnerships that bring the resources necessary to make this dream possible. The nurse-practitioner managed clinic that will open this spring at the school is also proof of that.

CICADA is proud to have been an instrumental part of the revitalization of this North Philadelphia community now served by this historic building, adapted for contemporary needs, and honoring its timeless design and beauty. The firm was nominated for the 2018 Philadelphia Preservation Alliance Award for Grand Jury prize in recognition of its work with Vaux.

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