State grant will help prepare for Phelps Road School transformation

Photo: Amherst EDA

A state grant will support redevelopment of the former Phelps Road School in Madison Heights. The Virginia Brownfields Restoration Assistance Fund will provide almost $300,000 for cleanup of lead and asbestos at the property. A Petersburg developer plans to transform the school building into 40 apartments. Construction is set to begin this summer.

From the Amherst County Economic Development Authority:  Amherst County has been awarded a Virginia Brownfields Remediation Grant of $295,000 to support the redevelopment of the former Phelps Road School in Madison Heights. The school was once a place of pride for the community, but over the last several decades it has fallen into a state of disrepair. Retaining and restoring this historic building will help it become a unique focal point for the community, add vibrancy to a neighborhood in decline, and be a catalyst for further revitalization in Madison Heights.

The Virginia Brownfields Restoration Assistance Fund (VBAF) was established to provide grants to local governments to promote the restoration and redevelopment of brownfield sites and to address environmental problems or obstacles to reuse so that these sites can be effectively marketed to new economic development prospects. The former Phelps Road school is in a serious state of deterioration and the grant funds will assist in the clean-up of the lead and asbestos at the property.

The Economic Development Authority of Amherst County (EDA) is working with Waukeshaw Development to repurpose the school into about 40 market rate apartments. Waukeshaw has gotten the site on the state Historic Building Registry and is awaiting Federal designation. Financing for the project has been secured by Waukeshaw. The approximately $7 million-dollar project will allow the historic former school to be restored and kept as an important asset to the community and have a significant economic benefit by producing new jobs, new tax revenue, and new economic activity in the County. An economic impact study on the project showed that with a $7 Million Investment in 40 apartments there would be $6,583,839 generated in economic activity and 51 new jobs during the construction phase with an annual impact of $1,350,016 in economic activity, $57,051 in tax revenue, and 14 new jobs created.

“We’re excited to make a significant contribution to Phelps Road and Madison Heights,” said Dave McCormack, Waukeshaw Development’s President. “It’s my hope that removing the blight and getting the lights back on in the building will add new life to the neighborhood. We’re going to preserve all of the important architectural features of the building and make the school a really impressive place to live.”

Construction at the former Phelps Road School is expected to begin this summer.