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Developer buys school for $1, plans to build housing

Updated: Jun. 11, 2021 at 4:11 PM EDT
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PETERSBURG, Va. (WWBT) - The old Virginia Avenue Elementary School in Petersburg is being sold to a developer for less than the price of a cup of coffee: $1. But that dollar will go a long way for the city.

According to the school district, the building was built in 1939 and closed in 2007.

The abandoned classrooms won’t be for students, they will instead become new homes.

“This all starts with the belief here in the city of Petersburg,” said Mayor Sam Parham during a press event on Friday morning.

EquityPlus, LLC is buying the building and plans to spend $10 million renovating the building to create 50 affordable housing units for seniors and veterans.

The developer says it chose to invest in Petersburg because it has potential:

“Raw materials here. It just needs a spark,” said Avram Fechter with EqualityPlus, which also plans also invest $24 million to develop 45 single-family homes near the former school.

The developer believes the city and those who move in will reap the long-term benefits.

“When the improvement comes, and the neighborhood starts gaining in value, the current residents won’t be forced out because we have captured so much many units that will always be affordable,” Fechter said.

EquityPlus will also give $740,000 to the city’s public school system for improvements, and Superintendent Maria Petri-Martin already has a shortlist for the eight schools in the district.

“It would go a long way in helping with replacing several of our roofing systems, HVAC systems, electrical, plumbing.”

Constructions on the single-family homes and the school renovations are set to start in September and expected to be fully completed 18 months later.

“The city of Petersburg is ripe for development,” Mayor Parham added.

Copyright 2021 WWBT. All rights reserved.

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