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Mary Wright School / Caulder Ave Apartments


westsider28

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Just stumbled across this: Montgomery Development is planning to renovate the former Mary H Wright Elementary School (201 Caulder Ave) into 53 luxury apartments.  "The Avenue" will also have a pool, fitness center, and dog park.  The project is expected to begin construction in the 4th quarter of 2020 and complete by the summer of 2021.  Great to see this historic building will be preserved!  And more housing is always good.

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  • 5 months later...

This site will come before City Council on Monday for a rezoning to R6-PDD (see agenda PDF here), which would enable the school's renovation into apartments.  Planning Commission endorsed the rezoning last month.

However, there is concern from neighboring residents about the project.  They worry it doesn't fit in with the neighborhood and that it could cause gentrification in the area.  And of course this is an historic African-American school, so there must be some sensitivity there. 

The developer has been meeting with residents to try to address concerns.  A development agreement with the City would require that the developer provide 11 of the 53 units as workforce housing, fund a trail connection along Caulder Ave to the MHW Greenway, and utilize minority-owned contractors for construction. 

Supporters also point out that this project would renovate and preserve the historic school, which has been vacant for over 5 years and is starting to show signs of deterioration.  It would also provide market-rate housing that is lacking in this area, which could potentially help support amenities that current residents desire, such as a grocery store.

While I am sensitive to residents' concerns, I think that this project would be a positive overall, and I hope City Council approves it.

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City Council voted unanimously to approve the rezoning and development agreement.  I believe both will require a second reading, but I'm glad to see this move forward.

We do need to be vigilant about the effects of gentrification in the area over the coming years, but that should be the case regardless of this particular project.  And there are ways to do that without preventing private investment.

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  • 3 weeks later...

On Monday, City Council voted unanimously to approve second reading of the rezoning and development agreement for the apartments at the former Mary H Wright Elementary.  The $11 million renovation would be the largest investment in the Southside in well over a decade.  In addition to a $50,000 contribution toward a trail connection to the MHW Greenway, the developer (John Montgomery) has also pledged his best efforts to ensure that a minimum of 20 percent of the redevelopment work will go to minority contractors, with five percent of those living on the Southside.

I'm glad this is moving forward, and I hope this will help bring some much-needed businesses, amenities, and opportunities to the Southside.

Also, it was mentioned at the Planning Commission meeting that there's a potential Phase 2, depending on the success of Phase 1.  It would be 76 additional units in new buildings, with the same 80% market-rate / 20% workforce breakdown.  This would be probably 5+ years away.  Here was the concept from the meeting:

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  • 7 months later...
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Posted (edited)

Went to an open house for these apartments today.  Nice units with pretty high ceilings.  The outdoor area in the back where the pool is located is quite spacious.  Some units have large patios.  But rents are a bit steep, IMO.  Studios (though reasonably large at 600-800 SF) start at ~$1300/month.

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Edited by westsider28
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