Empty Richmond School Could Turn Into Housing

Conversion of 1930s Baker Elementary into apartments could be part of plan.

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The vacant Baker Elementary School may get new life as part of a plan to replace the aging 200-unit Fredric A. Fay Towers in Gilpin Court.

City Council is expected to vote Monday to turn the deed for the school over to the Richmond Redevelopment and Housing Authority, which plans to place 52 units in the building.

The conversion is an element of a three-part redevelopment plan to replace the towers, in partnership with the nonprofit Community Preservation and Development Inc.

Last month, the same nonprofit broke ground on an $11 million restoration of 77 apartments in another former school last month. Located in Highland Park at 1221 E. Brookland Park Blvd., the school held its first class in 1909 and was closed in 1978. The now-shuttered property became the site of 77 units for seniors in 1995.

Baker Elementary, at 100 W. Baker St., was built in 1939 and closed in 2013.

A third phase of the redevelopment plan is the construction of a 175-unit, mixed-income apartment complex, with retail and commercial space, in Jackson Ward. It’s expected to cost more than $20 million and would span the block within Jackson, Duval, First and Second streets.

The block once was home to the demolished St. Joseph’s Catholic Church and an affiliated school. A former convent in the area would be a feature of the development.

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