Donnie Laurens remembers the layout of Alexander IV Elementary School nearly 50 years after he studied there.
“There’s where the library used to be, the principal’s office and the bathrooms,” he said in the dark, chilly foyer of the Ridge Avenue building
Laurens said he imagined the auditorium would seem small now that he is grown, but “it still seems big.”
About 100 people gathered in the auditorium of the former school Tuesday night to learn more about plans to convert it into a senior living facility.
The historic building fell in disrepair after long stretches of vacancy. It was declared surplus property by the Bibb County school board in 2013. Two years later, it made the Historic Macon Foundation’s inaugural Fading Five list.
Dover Development Corp., a Tennessee-based developer that specializes in converting historic buildings into senior housing, has plans for a 60-unit facility to be managed by Suwanee-based Senior Solutions Management Group.
Rick Dover, general manager, said the conversion of Alexander IV would mark the company’s fourth historic school, and eighth historic building, to be converted.
“We don’t have a real game plan to do more,” Dover said.
All employees of the facility would be hired locally, he said.
Seniors would not be required sign leases, but would have month-to-month contracts and be required to give 30 days notice before moving out.
About a dozen independent apartments are planned inside the existing building, which has long halls and high ceilings.
An additional wing to be constructed would be “dignified and respectful of this structure” compatible with the existing building, Dover said.
The wing would house about 18 units for seniors with memory impairment and 30 units for assisted living, Dover said.
There was no early design for the public to see, but Dover said people could expect to see one soon at upcoming public meetings.
“We take a long-term approach to building these buildings,” he said. “We know what will work. We just don’t know exactly what it will look like.”
One woman in the crowd expressed deep concern about the trees, some of which are estimated to be more than 100 years old.
Dover said he was open to some type of tree covenant to protect some of them.
Others in attendance were curious about the time line.
Dover said there are plans to start construction before June and, if all goes well, it could be completed during the first half of 2018.
Information from The Telegraph archives was used in this report.