WATERLOO — The Board of Education Monday voted 8-0 to accept a purchase offer from an East Syracuse developer for the sale of the vacant Main Street School for conversion to affordable senior housing.
Without discussion, the board voted to sell the iconic, historic school to Lakewood Development/Two Plus Four Construction for $600,000.
Before the vote, Susan B. Kimmel, president of Two Plus Four Construction Management Company, told the board its plans, if the sale is finalized. She said the plan is redevelop the three-story school into 32 independent, affordable senior apartments for those age 55 or older who can live independently. The plan calls for the school auditorium to remain available for public uses.
She said there would be 28 one-bedroom units and four two-bedroom handicapped adaptable apartments.
Kimmel said converting old schools into affordable housing “is all we do’’ and cited recent conversions of old schools in Watkins Glen and Auburn. The company responded to a Request For Proposals solicitation and was asked by school officials to appear before the board to explain its plans.
“It’s a beautiful school. We feel it is eligible for placement on the National Register of Historic Places, which makes it eligible for tax credits that make this project feasible,” Kimmel said.
“The State Historic Preservation Office has seen the building. They would require that the exterior not be changed, other than new windows of the same size,” Kimmel said. She said SHPO officials also want to retain as much of the features of the school as possible, including not relocating doors leading to the apartments.
“They want people living there to remember when it was a school,’’ she said.
Kimmel said the apartments would be rented only to those 55 or older. As affordable housing, she said they would be rented for below market rates. The developer can borrow money from the state at 1 percent interest, which allows the rents to be $500 to $750 for one-bedroom units and $750 to $850 for two bedroom units, including heat and water.
Kimmel said 20 of the units would be for people with 60 percent of the average median income, which is $27,120 for one person or $30,967 for two. The other 12 units would be for those with 90 percent of average median income, which is $40,680 for one person and $46,440 for two.
“I’m estimating a $13.6 million project. These older schools can be tricky and expensive. But the state likes us to do these school conversions because we do them well,” Kimmel said.
She said her company would build and manage the project. She said there would be laundry facilities and trash rooms on every floor, emergency pull cords in all bedrooms and bathrooms, a community room with a full kitchen, an elevator and on-site parking.
Kimmel said her company would provide a $25,000 “option fee” to the district to hold the building while it gets its financing finalized. Her company would also provide $20,000 to maintain the school until they can complete the sale.
“If all goes well, I anticipate financing in May and a closing in June or July, with construction to begin almost immediately. It’s a win-win in you no longer have to maintain a building you don’t need, it gets to meet a housing need and gets on the tax rolls,” Kimmel said.
She said she will seek a tax abatement of some nature.
“This school is one of the best of all those we’ve seen. SHPO will be involved in every step of the way to maintain the historical integrity of the building, inside and out.”
The school was built in the center of the village in 1928, serving as Waterloo High School until a new high school was built on Center Street in 1962. Main Street then became a junior high and then a middle school. When another new high school was built at the Center Street site in 2012, the middle school was moved into the former high school and Main Street housed the K-5 multi-age elementary school that had been at Border City.
The school closed at the end of the 2014 academic year.