People Inc. buys North Tonawanda school for a≠ordable housing project
Social services agency People Inc. has acquired a former North Tonawanda public school, with plans to turn it into affordable housing, including a component for disabled individuals with traumatic brain injuries.
The Amherst-based nonprofit paid $625,000 for the 40,263-square-foot former Grant Elementary School, buying it from the North Tonawanda City School District, said Vito Picone, senior director of business development at McGuire Development Co., who brokered the deal.
The sale and redevelopment have been in the works for nearly two years, since the contract was first agreed upon in December 2016, after People Inc. beat out two other proposals.
Located at 25 Grant St., the standalone brick building was constructed in 1953 and sits on four acres of land, with parking. The two-story building near the corner of Christiana and Vandervoort streets has been on the market since 2013, and was listed at one time for $675,000.
The school itself has been closed for more than four years, but the building has been leased out for office space in the interim, with as many as six tenants oc-
cupying it. Most recently, the building housed a preschool, an office for the district teachers union and BOCES, but their leases expired in June, said Jocelyn S. Bos, vice president of housing development for People Inc.
“It’s nice to see the former Grant Street Elementary building being redeveloped into great adaptive residential use,” Picone said.
People Inc. plans to renovate the building into 52 apartments for low-income adults, including 12 for disabled people with mobility, vision or hearing impairments. The income range for eligible tenants is $18,000 to $56,000 per year, Bos said.
Under the design by Long Associates, the new Grant Street School Apartments will include a mixture of one- and two-bedroom apartments.
Financing for the $16 million project includes low-income housing tax credits from the state Division of Housing and Community Renewal, plus a property tax break and a construction loan from Evans Bank. Evans and Northwest Bank are purchasing the tax credits, Bos said.
People Inc. received municipal approval for the project a year ago, and Calamar Construction Co. began asbestos removal and demolition work on the building this week. Bos said officials expect to begin leasing units by January or February 2020.
The project represents the nonprofit’s 125th housing project in Western New York, with 1,200 units, including 700 for seniors.
A rendering of the proposed Grant Street School Apartments, by People Inc. The agency plans to renovate the building into apartments for low-income adults.