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Old school could become senior housing

Cars zoom by the old Hunt Elementary School without so much as a second look.

But Evelyn Morgan knows the view well.

"It just run down. It just doesn't look like what it used to be," Morgan said.

She's lived across the street for more than 30 years.

Rust rots away at the building, overturned chairs collect in a corner, it's all that's left of the school that closed a decade ago.

"How about ugly?" Bruce Gerwig describes the old school.

Now, Gerwig, special projects manager at Macon Housing Authority, is imagining a reincarnation of sorts.

"The plan is to come back with 60 apartment units for elderly, 62 and up. We'd use the existing school buildings and each classroom would actually become an apartment unit," he said.

It would fill a need, Gerwig says.

Right now, 400 people are sitting on a waiting list for the Housing Authority's senior living properties.

"Here's an opportunity to bring this property back to a performing asset."

Like what Hunt Elementary was when Elaine Lucas taught there.

Now Commissioner for district 3, where the school sits, she says it's hard to accept what's become of it.

"There's not a single place or problem in the district that's gotten more complaints, about the looks of this property, about the vandalism, about people hanging out here," Lucas said.

It's why she wants the rest of the Commission to approve the Authority's request: $450,000 to help redevelop the school.

In the end, Gerwig says the $8.3 million project would more than pay for itself.

"It's really a detriment in its current condition," Gerwig said.

But making it a home for seniors is one step closer to unlocking its potential.

The Macon Housing Authority is applying for state tax credits to fund the project.

If the application is approved, Gerwig says construction would be complete by fall 2016.

Follow 13WMAZ's Anita Oh on Twitter @anita_oh.


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