PLYMOUTH - A hearing on the sale of Prospect Street School to a developer filled almost every seat of the community room Wednesday evening.
At the Town Council meeting, architectural plans were laid out on a table for residents to review prior to the hearing.
Town Attorney Bill Hamzy gave an overview of the project. He said no decisions would be made Wednesday and the council will take action after the developer is given approval by the Planning and Zoning Commission. The purpose of the meeting was to garner public input.
Prospect Ridge LLC’s principal, Craig Bothroyd, had announced in 2017 that he planned to develop the old school at 19 Prospect St. into 50 market-rate rental units, 24 of which will be physically in the school and 26 of which will be in “townhouse” style units on the athletic field.
“This developer has a good track record and he has done similar projects - converting historic buildings into apartment buildings,” said Hamzy. “He is the third or fourth person who expressed interest and nobody else has gotten this far in the zoning process. He’s definitely a legitimate and serious buyer.”
Hamzy said the former school is proposed to be sold for $200,000, with contingencies and the possibility for abatements. He said it is estimated that Bothroyd will pay $3 million on the project. Bothroyd will renovate the school building while simultaneously laying utilities in the field. He owns five other apartment complexes in the state and this will be his sixth project.
Mayor David Merchant said that the “nuts and bolts” are being worked out in Planning and Zoning.
“This is a building that has never been in the tax rolls,” said Merchant. “It is a historic building that will be protected. This project will breathe new life into the building.”
Residents who spoke were relatively split in terms of support. Others had logistical questions before they could support it.
Those who supported the project were glad that it would save the historic building and add it to the town’s tax rolls.
“This is a good opportunity for the town,” said resident John Murphy. “We’ll be getting $200,000 for a building that costs a couple million to tear down. That’s pretty good.”
Those who opposed the sale cited worries about devaluation of their adjacent properties, or that having more renters would change the identity of the town. Some were also worried about increased traffic or drugs.
“I lived in a good neighborhood as a kid then a developer built something similar to this type of building,” said Steve Warren. “The neighborhood went downhill fast. A lot of drugs came in and kids got mixed up with kids from the projects. It ruined a lot of lives and there were a lot of sad stories.”
Prospect Street School closed in June 2008 as a result of changes within the district. These changes led to the opening of Terryville High School, the conversion of the former high school into Eli Terry Jr. Middle School, Harry S. Fisher Middle School transformed into an elementary school and some students relocated to Plymouth Center Elementary School.
The old Main Street School, which sits empty across from Town Hall, also closed at that time.
Brian M. Johnson can be reached at 860-973-1806 or firstname.lastname@example.org.