Working for Smart Growth:
More Livable Places and Open Spaces

 

Beloved School Opens Its Doors Again as Housing

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Project Name: Springside School Apartments, Burlington Township
Adapting an unused school to provide senior and special-needs residences and services 

Partners: Township of Burlington, Conifer Realty, MEND, New Jersey Housing & Mortgage Finance Agency


Smart Growth ChallengeHow can Burlington Township preserve a historic former one-room schoolhouse in a manner that also serves the affordable housing needs of its older residents?

Burlington Township’s Springside School opened its doors to the community’s children as a one-room schoolhouse in 1916. The oldest public building in the township and a fixture on the National Register of Historic Places, the quaint schoolhouse was expanded in 1920 and again in the 1950s as the community’s population grew. But the schoolhouse closed its doors in 2007, a victim of functional and physical obsolescence, conditions that mirrored circumstances plaguing the surrounding community. Substantial private marketing efforts failed to revive it.

Now new life has been breathed into the building and its surrounding community, thanks to an imaginative redevelopment plan that combines the forces of the township, private enterprise, and a nonprofit entity. The plan calls for the renovation and adaptive reuse of the school building as safe and pedestrian-friendly affordable housing for senior citizens and residents with special needs.

Renovated Community Room within historic building
springside school - gazebo
Main Entrance to Springside School. To the left is the historic building and to the right is the new construction
Springside School
before - community room
front of school - after2

Before and After photos of historic school renovation

Renovated Community Room within historic building  thumbnail
springside school - gazebo thumbnail
Main Entrance to Springside School. To the left is the historic building and to the right is the new construction thumbnail
Springside School  thumbnail
before - community room thumbnail
front of school - after2 thumbnail

The developers, a joint-venture partnership comprising the nonprofit Moorestown Ecumenical Neighborhood Development, Inc. (MEND), which develops and manages affordable housing complexes in South Jersey, and the for-profit Conifer Realty LLC, have created a total of 74 units of affordable housing, including 60 units of senior housing and 14 units set aside for people with mental illnesses. These residents will be supported by the Lester A. Drenk Behavioral Health Center, a 60-year-old nonprofit organization serving the region. The complex features a community room, laundry facilities, a fitness room, and a library. The building also provides open space and landscaped areas, including a patio and gazebo.

Burlington Township demonstrated its commitment to this project by deeding the property to co-developer MEND at no cost, and providing a Payment in Lieu of Taxes (PILOT) agreement. The township also provided additional financing with a Municipal Housing Trust Fund contribution commitment. Since the school is being preserved, the development was eligible for historic tax credits. Additional financing included a conventional construction loan from TD Bank, as well as low-income housing tax credits and a permanent mortgage through the New Jersey Housing and Mortgage Finance Agency. Burlington County also provided a federal HOME partnership loan.

It has been several years since children’s voices last rang through the corridors of the Springside School. Now a dedicated consortium of public, private, and nonprofit interests has converted it into affordable housing for senior citizens and residents with special needs, proving once more that Springside School will always have its doors open to those who need it most.

Supporting Partners: TD Bank, Red Stone Equity Partners, Burlington County Community Development, Burlington Township School Board

 

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