Housing Project Would Transform Coady School
By: Diana T. Barth
A proposal submitted last week by the Stratford Capital Group LLC would, if accepted, transform the former Kempton F. Coady School into the Coady School Residences, a “100 percent affordable rental project” for those age 55 or older.
The Peabody-based Stratford Capital Group is offering the town $270,000 for the closed school and surrounding property, with the exception of the ballfield.
Under the lengthy redevelopment proposal, the “stately” school would be “sensitively renovated,” per National Park Service and Massachusetts Historic Commission guidelines, leaving the exterior of the building intact, but adding an addition to the structure, creating a total of 55 units.
Twenty two-bedroom units and 35 one-bedroom units would be built.
According to the drawings provided by the group, the addition would be sited to the rear of the school. The front lawn area of the school would be preserved and 90 striped parking spaces would serve the residents and the adjacent, existing ballfields.
George (Jay) Jenkins of the Bourne Society for Historic Preservation, whose members came before selectmen to ask that the historic structure be saved, said that, although his group could not afford to buy the school, it was responsible for contacting the Stratford Capital Group and making them aware of the town’s Request For Proposals for the school.
According to the Stratford Group’s submission to that request, much of the interior of the structure would be gutted, and new plumbing, mechanical, electrical, elevator, heating, ventilation, air conditioning and fire protection would be installed.
The result, the proposal says, would be a “green” building. Although the developer does not propose formally applying for LEED certification, the project would use the US Green Building Council LEED rating system as a guideline.
Richard A. Hayden, executive vice president and a principal of the group, said in his letter to the town that the Stratford Group has completed numerous projects in residential neighborhoods similar to that of the Coady School.
As a part of its submission, the Stratford Capital Group provided pictures of the inside and outside of several similar projects, both before and after redevelopment. They included the adaptive reuse of the Alice E. Fulton School in East Weymouth, completed in 2009; the Brown School Residences in Peabody, completed in 2008; and the School Street Residences, once the former Althol Middle School, finished last year, as well as photographs of projects designed by the proposed architects.
All 55 of the project’s units would be rented to elders who learn less than 60 percent of the area’s median income, with 10 percent being priced for those who earn less than 30 percent of the median income.
Along with resumes and references, the group also gave the town parking and traffic data, saying that the traffic impacts associated with age 55-restricted apartments are “minor” and would be “significantly less than the previous use of the building as a school.”
As a part of the package, the group also provided the town with a letter evidencing TD Bank’s interest in exploring the provision of construction financing for the project, along with Wainwright Bank’s interest in providing permanent financing.
If the proposal were to be accepted by the town, a schedule provided by the group anticipated that plans and financing would be completed this year; all permitting would be completed and construction would begin in 2012.
Construction would be completed in the second quarter of 2013, according to that schedule.
The Stratford Group's proposal was the only response to the town’s Request for Proposals.
Town Administrator Thomas M. Guerino said the proposal would be evaluated by a small group that will include Town Planner Coreen V. Moore and then will be presented to selectmen at their March 8 meeting.
Selectmen will need to debate the proposal in light of suggestions made for the Coady site that included razing the building and using the land for a new police station or public safety complex.
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