Meriter Hospital is selling properties — including the landmark Longfellow School building — to developers who intend to create more than 200 rental housing units in two separate projects.
The Alexander Co. is buying the school, 210 S. Brooks St., and its parking lot and has a $21 million plan to convert the vacant schoolhouse into 50 apartments and also build a four-story apartment building with 85 to 90 units. Underground parking with 120 to 150 spaces would be built on the adjacent parking lot.
The Gallina Cos. are buying five properties on the 100 block of South Mills and 1000 block of Mound streets to develop a four-story apartment building with 72 units and 51 underground and 21 surface parking spaces. No cost estimate was available.
The developments, which have not yet been formally proposed to the city, would continue a residential boom near Meriter and St. Mary’s hospitals. Gallina is currently building a five-story, 62-unit project called The Ideal at the corner of South Park and Drake streets, and Joe McCormick plans a five-story, 40-unit building across the street.
The Meriter properties have long outlived their usefulness as health care facilities, and their redevelopment will enhance the neighborhood and city, hospital spokeswoman Mary Reinke said.
The housing projects are intended to be a transition between the hospital and residential neighborhood, said Ald. Sue Ellingson, 13th District, who represents the area.
Ellingson has taken no position on the projects, pending neighborhood comment. But in general, new, quality housing close to Downtown means more people walking, bicycling and busing to work and more residents to support local businesses, she said.
A neighborhood meeting is set for 6 p.m., March 12, at McConnell Hall, 1010 Mound St.
Longfellow School, built in phases between 1918 and 1938, is considered a fine local example of Tudor Revival style and a symbol of the ethnically rich Greenbush Neighborhood. It hosted schoolchildren until 1980, and the building is a city landmark and listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
The school exterior would be refurbished and the interior layout will lend itself to spacious one- and two-bedroom apartments with high ceilings, big windows, hardwood floors and modern amenities, Joe Alexander said.
The school’s auditorium would be available for residents, he said.
“It’s a great old school,” he said. “Meriter has kept it in very good condition.”
The new apartment building would be roughly the size of the school, but have a modern design that fits the neighborhood, Alexander said. “You shouldn’t try to mirror (the school),” he said. “You’d never get it right.”
The plan calls for a private green space between the buildings for residents, he said. The parking garage would serve both buildings and Meriter’s new child care center.
If city approvals are granted, construction would start in the fall and the project completed in a year, Alexander said.
Gallina would demolish houses at 105, 107 and 113 Mills St. and 1020 and 1022 Mound St. for an apartment building, which would have studio, one- and two-bedroom units, company president Craig Enzenroth said.
The building would have a Craftsman blend design intended to appear as multiple structures and feature a fitness center and large lobby area, Enzenroth said.
“It’s meant to appear as row housing as you go down Mills Street,” he said.
Gallina hopes to begin construction in the fall and open in the summer of 2014, he said.