Tom George is happy with his renovation of Sunnyside Elementary into Sunnyside Apartments now, but two months ago he said he probably would have given a different answer.
The project was difficult, made more complex by trying to satisfy historic guidelines.
Today, the 23 units are nearly ready for the public. Workmen have turned the classrooms and cafeteria/auditorium into apartments, but because of the historic requirements the building’s past is obvious.
Chalkboards, school lockers, water fountains, even coat hooks used by hundreds of children over the decades remain.
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“It’s just really cool,” George said.
Sunnyside, which sits on the south side of Kellogg near Hillside, was built in 1916 and closed as a public school in 1998. It was a private school after that, but had been vacant for several years when George bought it.
He was intrigued by the project – and by the successful school renovations of Martinson School, at Second and Athenian, and Alcott School, at Murdock and Vassar, by his friend Don Vaughn Sr.
He and Don Vaughn Jr. later bought Kellogg School at Washington and Kellogg and renovations are ongoing there.
“They are gorgeous buildings and they are right on Kellogg, and I wanted to do something neat,” he said.
Sunnyside was “a mess,” he said. It’s old, had been vacant for a number of years and had been vandalized.
Because of the extensive work required, George said he needed historic tax credits to even begin to make the project work financially. A qualifying project can receive up to 45 percent of the construction cost as tax credits that can be sold.
The units range from 800 square feet to 1,500 square feet, with high ceilings and tall windows. A studio is $495, one bedrooms start at $695 and two bedrooms start at $995. The building feels solid, with wood floors and surprisingly little sound coming from the highway. All systems and appliances are new. The grounds have a security gate and a camera at the entry so tenants can see who is at the door.
The units will be available by mid-August. For information, contact Real Property Management at 630-8002.