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Century-Old Highland Park School Restored

Posted on June 28, 2017 in Blog

The former Highland Park Public School has been transformed and is now home to seniors seeking low-income apartments. The building is one of the key developments pinpointed to transform the historic neighborhood north of downtown Richmond.

The new Highland Park Senior Apartments features offers 77 one-bedroom apartment units within the century-old 66,000-square-foot Mediterranean Revival building. The three-story brick and stucco structure is topped by hipped roofs clad with red terra cotta tiles. Upgrades include new site amenities and landscaping, refurbished elevators and replacement of all finishes, specialties, appliances, and plumbing, mechanical, and electrical systems, including providing new variable refrigerant flow HVAC systems and nurse call systems.

“The building was basically dilapidated when we began demolition. When we opened walls, ceilings and floors we were often in for significant surprises with the existing conditions that we uncovered due to the age and wear on the building,” said Will Paulette, project manager. “The KBS team spent a considerable amount of effort working with the owner and design team to provide constructible and cost efficient solutions to the problems caused by these hidden issues. In the end, it was a rewarding process to see a shuttered building get restored to its full potential.

Extensive historic restoration of masonry, ornamental metal and wood elements including wood windows and doors took place. As part of the restoration, the building’s entrances were reconfigured and its distinctive oversized windows utilized.  The school auditorium was converted into a community common area.

The original building was designed by noted Virginia architect Charles M. Robinson. Robinson was a prolific designer of educational buildings in Virginia, including public schools in Richmond and throughout Virginia, and university buildings for James Madison University, College of William and Mary, Radford University, Virginia State University and the University of Richmond. He also designed the Altria Theater, formerly known as the Landmark Theater and the Mosque. Many of his works have been listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Built in 1909, the Highland Park Public School was used as a community school for Highland Park until the community was annexed by the City of Richmond in 1914. It then served as a neighborhood school in the Richmond public school system until it closed in the 1970s. In 1991, it was listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

The developer financed the project utilizing a few funding sources including State and Federal Historic Tax Credits and HUD’s LIHTC program. The project is designed and built to achieve Earthcraft Platinum certification.

The developer is Washington, D.C.-based developer Community Preservation and Development Corporation. The project was designed by Grimm and Parker.