Vacant and underutilized former schools have been a popular target for residential and mixed-use conversions over the past 5 years or so, with both market rate and subsidized projects being completed throughout the city. Unused schoolhouses can make for convenient conversion opportunities in which hallways, benches, large windows, chalkboards and built-ins can be put to good use as features that also work well in a residential context. Each school room is often conveniently an appropriate size for an apartment.
As such, two more vacant school buildings will be finding new life after being considered by the Planning Board this past Monday, this time as affordable units.
Lt. Col. Matt Urban Human Services Center is aiming to transform former PS #57 into The Hope House. Located a few blocks from the Broadway Market at 243 Sears St, the project will transform the top three floors of the school building into 27 units of low-income housing for women. The units will be open to women making less than 50% of area median income, with a focus on the homeless.
The lower level of the four story building will include a community health clinic, administrative offices, meeting room, clothing closet, food pantry, and a soup kitchen run by Friends of the Night People. One end of the auditorium will be renovated into four apartments with the remainder left open for events. A kitchen and dining area will be underneath. Residents will be offered various services to get back on their feet.
A mix of Federal, State, and local funding sources has been tapped for the $10.25 million project. Savarino Construction is general contractor, with Flynn Battaglia as architect.
Additionally, the West Sides’ former School #77 is slated to become 32 affordable apartments for seniors with a community center and office space for nonprofits on the first floor. The project is being undertaken by PUSH Buffalo.
The 85,500 sq. ft. school closed in 2008. It is being developed with a mix of PUSH’s capital, state funding, and tax credits. Stieglitz Snyder Architecture is designing the renovation.
Both projects are slated to begin next fall.