Group plans reuse of historic former elementary school

June 3, 2010

A former elementary school built in 1905 is getting a new use for the second time since schoolchildren departed for good in 1979.

Englewood Community Development Corp. plans to redevelop the former Lucretia Mott School No. 3 at 23 N. Rural St. into 32 apartments in partnership with the John H. Boner Community Center. The units, ranging from efficiencies to three-bedrooms, will be marketed to people at a variety of income levels.

From 1984 to 2009, the former school served as a shelter for women and children operated by Wheeler Mission Ministries, which gave the building to Englewood Community Development Corp. after it moved out, said Joe Bowling, an Englewood board member.

The group plans to spend between $6 million and $7 million to renovate the building, which will be dubbed The CommonWealth.

"We believe that creating diverse, mixed-income and mixed-use communities where each neighbor is asked to give and support one another yields a true 'wealth' or richness to our neighborhoods," Bowling wrote in an e-mail. "What that means specifically for residents of The CommonWealth is still being developed, but we envision asking residents to do more than sign a lease. We’d like them to make some commitment beyond themselves to improve the community in which they will reside."

The group had hoped to use the first floor of the building as offices for not-for-profit groups but could not find enough interest, so it opted for an entirely residential project. Residents will have access to a gymnasium and other public spaces, Bowling said.

The 1.4-acre property is surrounded by Englewood Christian Church to the north, a Pizza Hut and an Indianapolis-Marion County Public Library branch to the south, and single-family homes to the east and west.

The city's planning staff recommended approval of the change in use with a handful of conditions. Among them: the building must not be torn down, the owner must work out a shared parking agreement with the church (the building has 31 spaces, fewer than the code requires), no driveway is allowed on Rural Street, and trees at the northwest and southwest corners of the site should be saved.

Members of the Metropolitan Development Commission OK'd the project Wednesday.

The apartments will be divided roughly evenly between market rate units, low to moderate income units, and units for chronically homeless individuals or families with a diagnosed mental illness (services to be provided by Adult & Child).


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