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The Buffalo School Apartments project is one step closer to completion after the Land of Lincoln Planning and Zoning Commission approved the re-zoning of the property Thursday. The decision was unanimous.
AU Associates of Lexington, doing business as Buffalo Apartments LLLP, has purchased the former Buffalo Elementary School at 50 School Loop with intentions of transforming it into a housing complex for the elderly.
The school, originally constructed in 1936 as a Works Progress Administration project, will contain 19 apartments – 11 one-bedroom units and eight two-bedroom units, according to Johan Graham, financial manager for AU.
The commission peppered Graham, who has worked with LaRue County Schools for several months on the proposal, with numerous questions about the complex’s impact on the neighborhood.
Graham said the apartment building will have “historically appropriate” security lights that will not infringe on other property owners, plenty of parking spaces, onsite management and a maintenance person on call.
Applicants for housing will undergo financial and background checks and the units will be inspected several times a year.
“We’re not afraid to evict,” Graham said. “The quality of life of the residents is important (to us).”
AU will maintain ownership of the complex for 15 to 20 years, Graham said.
The zoning commission issued a conditional use permit with several stipulations including no one under 18 may live in the apartments, entrances be secure and trash bins be screened and picked up regularly.
Several residents and school board members toured a similar AU project in Glasgow in September. Superintendent Sam Sanders, who attended the meeting, said no negative comments were heard from those who toured the Liberty School Apartments.
The Buffalo School property was approved for listing in the National Register of Historic Places by the Kentucky Historic Preservation Review Board Dec. 9, Graham said. The nomination was forwarded for final consideration to the National Park Service, which usually issues a final determination within 60 to 90 days. AU sought the designation to qualify for federal or state tax credits for certified rehabilitation of the property. If it is not approved, AU will continue to re-apply, Graham said.
The school’s gymnasium was included in the $60,000 purchase price of the property. AU does not plan to remodel the building, Graham said. It is hoped that a local organization will manage the gym’s rental and use.
Buffalo residents have indicated they want the building to be available for reunions and basketball games, Graham said.
Commission members agreed that any future use of the gym be governed by a conditional use permit.
•The school’s playground equipment will remain at the site and be available for use by residents.
•A mobile classroom and storage building will be removed from the property.
•Construction on could begin as early as July 2009. Completion date for the complex is tentatively March 2010.
•Fiscal court will consider re-zoning of the property Jan. 13.