After six developers competed to build at the former Sugar Creek Elementary School site — one came out on top.
The Verona Common Council chose to negotiate with Steve Brown Apartments and the Alexander Company, to develop 12 acres near the city’s downtown. Though the June 22 decision was based on a specific proposal, the development must go through an extensive approvals process, including discussions with neighbors, and likely would require an agreement by the city to contribute financially.
The city is acquiring the 12-acre site south of West Verona Avenue between Legion and Marietta streets from the Verona Area School District in November. The proposed $54 million project is expected to take months of planning and two or more years to develop.
The proposal by Steve Brown and Alexander beat out competing plans by McKenzie Apartment Company T. Wall Enterprises, Northpointe Development Corporation and Avante Properties, Gorman and Company; and Green Street. McKenzie was the other finalist, and the two development teams discussed their plans twice with the Common Council.
The chosen developers held the first neighborhood informational meeting over the summer, where they stated that a conceptual plan could be brought to the Plan Commission as early as Oct. 5.
Developers present concept plans to the Plan Commission and Common Council for discussion only. The governmental bodies offer feedback but don’t take any action.
The Steve Brown/Alexander plan would tear down the Sugar Creek building and restore the New Century School, which was built in 1917-18. It would build a public park at the center of the project, which would be heavily focused on apartments but also contain some retail space – a key factor in the council’s choice, as they said they hope it will provide a link to downtown.
One proposed use of the restored school building would be a children’s museum, though that, too, is likely to go through an extensive public process.
The Aug. 26 presentation outlined a proposal to build two, three and four story apartment buildings with a total of 215 units – about half of which are considered “affordable” by federal definitions – and 10,000 square feet of retail space at the corner of West Verona Avenue and South Marietta Street.Developers said the retail corner – part of a mixed use building with apartments above it – will have a “town square feel.”
The initial proposal outlined up to $8.9 million in tax-increment financing to support the project, though the developers also said they were confident they could cut that amount in half or better.