Plan to convert old Claremont School property into apartments moves forward

The Landmark Group out of Winston-Salem, N.C. proposes to renovate the old Claremont Elementary School and construct a second building to create 50 one- two- and three-bedroom apartments.

The former Claremont Elementary School in Pulaski could – by the latter portion of 2022 – become a new housing project with some 50 one-, two- and three-bedroom apartments.

That’s the plan of the Landmark Group, based in Winston-Salem, N.C., which rehabs properties – including vacant school buildings – and turns them into affordable housing.

A look at their website – www.lpmcliving.com/virginia/ – shows several locations in Virginia where Landmark has transformed old factory buildings and warehouses into loft apartment spaces, and old schools into apartment buildings.

In the past 35 years, Landmark boasts of completing over 100 projects and over 4,000 living spaces in Virginia, North and South Carolina, Georgia, Maryland, Tennessee, Florida and Texas.

Michael Solomon, Economic Development Director for Pulaski County, introduced the Claremont plan Monday night to the Board of Supervisors.

Solomon said the county is working with the Town of Pulaski, the New River Valley HOME Consortium and Landmark to revitalize and re-develop the old elementary school site.

Landmark’s John Stiltner told the supervisors the company had conducted “a lot of downtown revitalizations, neighborhood revitalizations and rural community revitalizations” to meet the affordable housing needs of the community.
Stiltner presented the supervisors with a list of 22 former school buildings in the Southeastern U.S. and Texas that had been revitalized into apartments and lofts.

“We come in and develop the property and we stay,” Stiltner told the board. “We have our own management team – we manage it, we maintain it and at the point it has met its useful life with amenities and stuff inside the units, we revitalize it again and make another investment into the project and the community. We love our housing and we make sure it outlives us.”

The floor plans for the 1-, 2- and 3-bedroom apartments.

Landmark’s proposal at Claremont includes renovating the former two-story school building as well as constructing a second new building. Altogether they will accommodate eight one-bedroom, 28 two-bedroom and 14 three-bedroom apartments.

Stiltner said all the one-bedroom apartments will be constructed in the old school building along with several two-bedroom and two three-bedroom apartments.

The first floor of the school building will include a community room with tables, chairs, exercise equipment, computers, printers and wi-fi for residents for use for meetings, birthday celebrations or after-school programs.

The new brick building to be constructed would feature the rest of the two- and three-bedroom apartments. It would feature an interior corridor and secure entries that are secure at all times with residents needing a key to enter.

Both buildings would be equipped with elevators.

Each apartment includes a stove, side-by-side refrigerator, dishwasher and washer – dryer hookup.

Stiltner said the company estimates the entire project will cost about $11 million to construct. Landmark will apply next month for funding through the Virginia Housing Development Authority, and secure additional funding from other sources through mid-2021.

Landmark projects that funding will be complete, and the project would be ready for construction by the third quarter of 2021.

At that time, Solomon said the county’s Economic Development Authority, which currently owns the Claremont property, would transfer ownership to Landmark.

Construction would be complete by September of 2022 and possibly sooner, Stiltner said. He added that Landmark will work to get the “historic” school building named to the National Register of Historic Places.

As an incentive to Landmark, the EDA resolved to support a real estate tax grant to the company in the amount of 50 percent of real estate taxes paid on the property for a period of five years.

The supervisors voted unanimously Monday night to okay a resolution to approve the tax grant as well as to designate the property as a revitalization area.

Solomon told the supervisors he understands the Town of Pulaski will also agree to the terms of the tax grant.

Supervisor Chairman Joe Guthrie noted that the property isn’t on the county’s tax rolls at this time, and that the project is in keeping with the county’s “40 by 30” initiative – proving housing for a desired population of 40,000 in the county by 2030.

By MIKE WILLIAMS, The Patriot