Developers will be given tours of the Sugar Creek Elementary and New Century School sites this month ahead of a redevelopment project that could change the face of the neighborhood.
The tour will kick off a developer search for the 12-acre area that includes the two school buildings at 401 W. Verona Ave. and 420 Church St.
The buildings are being abandoned by the Verona Area School District this fall when it opens a new high school on the city’s west side, and students move to other buildings.
Verona issued a call for potential developers to submit plans – a process known as a request for proposals – on Jan. 7, with a submission deadline of March 30.
The city’s community development specialist Katherine Holt said the Feb. 21 tour – on a day with no school – currently has RSVPs from five applicants who requested tours. The tour will be given by the Director of Building and Grounds from the Verona Area School District.
Holt said the director can answer questions from the applicants about the history of the grounds.
The 10-page RFP for the site states Verona is looking for proposals that provide “public access and amenities to help drive pedestrian traffic and retain its historic character.”
It says the city will give preference to plans that list the 102 year old New Century School building on the National Register of Historic Places. The 64 year old, 64,000 square foot Sugar Creek building, however, is planned for demolition.
The RFP states the entire 14 acre planning area includes other sites the city does not own – the former Treads restaurant, T-shirt shop Leisure Threads, a hair salon and two houses. The school sites will be transferred to the city later this year as part of a 2018 agreement negotiated with the district.
The city’s Community Development Authority, an arm of the local government that leads urban renewal projects, solicited feedback on plans for the site in the fall of 2019 with an open house.
The University of Milwaukee student-run Community Development Solutions design firm created possible concepts indicated in the city’s request.
The concepts include a mixed-use town center style space with a community center and park, a community pool, and a collaborative public working area known as a makerspace, according to the documents created by CDS.
The RFP document lists commercial, residential and public uses as preferred and says the public spaces could include a community center for seniors, active adults and students and a pool.
All projects must meet several goals, according to the document. These are use of high quality design and materials, safe and efficient traffic circulation, diverse uses that complement existing options in the city, “creative rehabilitation” of the New Century building and conforming to the sustainability resolution the city passed in April.
Among the nine selection criteria, the ones with the highest weight – 20 points each out of 100 – are being “architecturally unique,” and making the area active; and bringing the city long-term financial benefits.
Anyone interested in taking the tour of the Sugar Creek sites will meet at the Sugar Creek Elementary School at 10 a.m. Feb. 21 and will need to RSVP to Holt by no later than February 20.