Sep 29, 2011 Ned Campbell Uncategorized
The East Syracuse Minoa Central School District can now complete the sale of Heman Street School to Lakewood Development LLC of East Syracuse. The New York State Division of Housing and Community Renewal recently approved Lakewood’s project application, notifying the company on Sept. 21.
The school will be converted to affordable senior housing.
“The successful approval and ultimate completion of this project is a win-win for ESM and the community,” said ESM Superintendent Donna DeSiato. “Our taxpayers benefit from the cost savings by no longer having to maintain the building, the community is getting some much needed senior housing and the renovated building will also be put back on the tax rolls to generate revenue in the future.”
The closing on the sale is expected in December. The ESM school board approved the $460,000 purchase in December 2010, but the project was delayed when Lakewood was denied state and federal funding during the first round of financing.
Susan Kimmel, president of Lakewood Development, estimates the project will cost $6 million and will result in 37 affordable senior housing units — 33 one-bedroom and four two-bedroom apartments — in the 47,000 square foot school building.
“This is a great reuse of a building that is already a centerpiece of the community,” Kimmel said. The building will be renamed Heman Street School Apartments and the project will much of the original architecture.
The original Heman Street School burned down in the 1930s; the structure as it now stands was rebuilt and dedicated in 1939.
The building was last used as a school in December 2002 to house students while East Syracuse Elementary was being built. Heman Street and Kinney Street schools were consolidated into the new building after a citizens advisory committee found that it would be more cost effective to build a new school than repair and maintain the aging buildings, said Marcia Kelley, school information officer for ESM.
All of Kinney Street School was torn down with the exception of the gymnasium, around which East Syracuse Elementary was built. The Heman Street School building did not go on the market until November 2008, and since 2002 has been used by the school, village of East Syracuse government and other local businesses and groups for a variety of functions — often as a swing space during renovations.
“That building has almost been to capacity since 2002 with various things,” Kelley said.
The building currently houses the village of East Syracuse Parks and Recreation Department’s senior luncheon program, which provides a hot meal for seniors two days a week. Lakewood Development will include community space in its renovations of the school where the program will be held.
Work on converting the school to senior housing is expected to begin in early 2012 and be complete by spring of 2013.
“We are grateful for the school district’s commitment to this project and their willingness to work with us as we competed for the funds,” Kimmel said. “This is a great project for the village of East Syracuse and is a key component of their revitalization efforts.” Rental prices are expected to be well below the market average.
Danny Liedka, mayor of East Syracuse, said he “couldn’t have dreamed of a better use” for the property.
“Given that East Syracuse has one of the lowest median incomes in Onondaga County and our senior population is rising, this fills a huge void to provide a great housing option for them,” he said.
ESM can use the proceeds from the building sale for debt service, the capital reserve fund and future expenses that would otherwise come from the general fund.
Lakewood Development LLC, the development arm of Two Plus Four Construction, has already completed four school conversions of this type. The company is partnering on this project with the not-for-profit Southern Hills Preservation Corporation, which helps with affordable housing projects in Onondaga County. The two organizations have formed Heman St. Partners LLP.
Lakewood has built and managed affordable housing for families and elderly residents since 1977. Local projects include the Colonial Village in East Syracuse and Eastview Gardens in Minoa.