The town-owned Bridge Street School property could see new life soon if plans for a combined retail and residential development continue to take hold for the vacant site.
An informative Town Meeting will take place Thursday night at Suffield High School at 7 p.m., at which time town planners will share the proposal by Lexington Partners, LLC.
Patrick McMahon, economic and community development director, began soliciting ideas for the 3.4 acre parcel in the center of town earlier this year and calls the initial plans "very impressive."
"It fits the bill," he said.
According to McMahon, the proposal keeps in character with the architecture of the Town Center and saves the facade of the building, an elementary school built in 1924 and closed in 2004.
Lexington Partners, LLC, a Hartford-based company, and New England Construction, with offices in Rhode Island, propose a multi-family residential apartment property with 65 units - six located in the renovated Bridge Street School and 59 units in a new three-story, horseshoe-shaped structure built on the open field. There would be a mix of one and two bedroom units. The proposal also calls for 2,000 square feet of retail on the north side of the school building.
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According to McMahon, the town would receive $975,000 for the property. The developer would be responsible for lead and asbestos removal, which is estimated to be $150,000.
The project is estimated to generate $160,000 per year in new tax revenue for the town.
The Board of Selectmen voted this month to move on with this project, and turned down a second bid proposal of about $600,000 that featured commercial and condominiums. The town representatives felt the community would be better served by more affordable apartments, and appreciated the concrete plans of the Lexington proposal.
Vacant for eight years now, the school holds dear the hearts of many residents who don't want to see the property torn down. But the vacant building would require too much for the town to renovate, and already costs the town money sitting idle.
The town has been paying to keep the building heated, and just last year the furnace broke, according to Jack Muska of the public works department.
Martin J. Kenny, 55, is the principal and sole owner of Lexington Partners, LLC a Hartford based commercial real estate firm. According to his website, he has been active in the Connecticut, New England and Florida commercial real estate industry for 29 years as a developer, owner, broker, lender and property manager. Kenny built the Addison Mill Apartments in 2009, which involved the $12M conversion of a historic abandoned mill constructed in the 1850’s into 55 luxury apartment units in Glastonbury, Connecticut.
The Thursday night meeting is merely informative with an official Town Meeting vote likely to be held in the fall should the plan pass through the planning and development boards.