West Haven Finds Developers To Buy Two Former School Buildings
October 31, 2019
By CCM staff
CCM often likes to highlight the building of new schools and the rejuvenation of brownfields. They are some of the key signals that a municipality is invested in their future. But sometimes there is a nexus between the two issues, as new schools are built and old schools go out of use. They aren’t quite brownfields, but finding new uses for decommissioned schools can be as tricky. West Haven had two vacant schools, Stiles and Thompson, that needed new uses, and they knew exactly who to market them to: groups that would transform them into apartments.
While the thought of living in an old school might seem strange, it’s actually part of a trend that is going on nationally. The National Apartment Association wrote a short article on the subject noting projects in Chicago, Philadelphia, and Rotterdam, New York that have seen old schools turned into apartment communities, senior living communities, and lofts.
They noted that redevelopments like these “help preserve beloved buildings, classic architecture, character and history in the communities.”
The Stiles and Thompson schools had been vacant for some time, until they were sold to the Park Lane Group, LLC, according to reporting from the New Haven Register, after an earlier bid fell through. The plan is to “create a total of 102 one bedroom units for tenants 55 and older,” as well as some retail space in the two vacant schools as well as the Blake Building, which would house just 27 of the units.
In their plan, 20% of the units would be affordable housing.
Money and growth for city back to top
One of the most important aspects of the sale was bringing money and growth back into the city, but also that the building was going to be brought back into good condition without city funds. A request for proposals that went out in 2017 for the Stiles School noted that the building was in much need of repair, citing water damage and known hazardous materials due to the age of the building.
A similar project in East Haven was costing the town $240,000 per year before developers came up with a plan to renovate the former East Haven High School. That project is estimated to cost $22 million and be completed by November 2020, according to the Register.
While plans for the actual apartments and construction is forthcoming — and will need to be approved by the planning and zoning commission — the basic idea is there. The project is a rare win-win-win. It takes buildings that needed to be redeveloped, gets new residents in, and gets them off town books. It’s as easy as A-B-C or 1-2-3