By Marjorie Nesin
---- — Almost 115 years after the city built the Maplewood Avenue school, and over 25 years after its last school bell tolled, the city has sold the boarded-up building encompassed by chain-link fence to a Gloucester-based group that plans to invigorate it with new life and purpose.
In a $120,000 deal, the nonprofit Gloucester Development Team, best known locally for its work in transforming the Central Grammar Apartments in the 1970s, bought the Maplewood School with plans to perform the same kind of transformation.
Mayor Carolyn Kirk met with Kirk Noyes and Marc Sandler of the Gloucester Development Team to sign the purchase and sales agreement outside the brick building Wednesday.
“Waiting for the right development has absolutely been worth it and we are thrilled to get this building off our hands,” Kirk said. “The quality of work by the Gloucester Development Team is unmatched.”
Though the team placed a bid on the city’s fifth request for proposals for the building last summer, it was unable to purchase the building until now, having signed the sale papers Wednesday afternoon.
“I was busy doing other projects, and we just couldn’t get the numbers to work out, until now,” Noyes said.
Now that the numbers do match up, Noyes and Sandler plan to spend about $3 million creating 12 condominium units of housing for veterans and “empty nesters,” defined more objectively as people older than 53 whose children have left home. The team will redesign four classrooms and hallway space on each floor into one-bedroom apartments. The attic apartments will feature recessed balconies.
The group plans to construct a community room and a laundry area in the basement and create 23 parking spots on the paved area outside the building that once acted as a playground. Still, the group will maintain those school building bones and facade.
“It’s going to look like a school building. That’ll be the plan,” Noyes said.
One unit in the building will be set aside as an affordable housing unit, and the nonprofit group will contribute $55,000 to the Gloucester Affordable Housing Trust in lieu of providing a second affordable unit as required by the city’s zoning ordinance.
“Our focus is probably a little different than if we were a contractor looking to rehab the building and flip it,” said Sandler, the Gloucester Development Team’s president.
The deed restrictions that require at least one resident in each unit to be either older than 53 or have been honorably discharged from the military will lapse and terminate after four years.
The Gloucester Development Team plans to begin construction after the start of the new year and once they complete the permitting process.
Marjorie Nesin can be reached at 978-283-7000 x3451, or firstname.lastname@example.org.