First Street School project moves forward

Katie Anderson

The development company planning to turn the former First Street Elementary School into the Canonsburg Senior Lofts was recently awarded construction funding by the state Housing Finance Agency through Housing Tax Credits.

In a Friday news release, MVAH Partners senior vice president of development Trey Barbour thanked borough officials, the school district and elected officials for their support of the $14.7 million project, which is three years in the making.

“We’re excited,” Barbour said in an interview Tuesday. “Securing those tax credits are an important piece of the project in this stage. Now that we have that, it’s really full steam ahead.”

Barbour said the company hopes to close on the property with the Canon-McMillan School District by the end of the year, so construction can begin in the first quarter of 2021. He said he hopes to have the facility open for residents in the first quarter of 2022.

Morgan Northy, spokesperson for Canon-McMillan, said that while the district is in favor of the project, they do not have a date for the closing of the sale. She said the district has been keeping up with the maintenance of the building.

The funding was awarded to MVAH Partners in partnership with the nonprofit Blueprints, which will be providing various amenities and services to the potential senior residents in the new development.

“Blueprints is thrilled to partner with MVAH on this much-needed development in the county and couldn’t be happier with the funding award notification,” Blueprints’ vice president of operations Jeff Fondelier said in the news release. “Affordable housing is vitally important to our community, and we can’t wait to see the finished product.”

Canonsburg Borough approved the plan for the development in 2018. The project will repurpose the existing building and include construction of an addition in the back of the former school. There will be a total of 50 rental units to serve adults 62 or older with affordable housing, Barbour said.

Barbour said the rent for a one-bedroom unit will average around $550 a month, and two bedrooms will average about $750.

Council President R.T. Bell said Tuesday that the Senior Lofts will be a “win-win for everybody.”

“It’s a good deal for all of us, the school district and for Canonsburg,” Bell said. “We can always use affordable housing in Canonsburg. People of that age start thinking about retiring, and they don’t want to stay in a big home. It’s hard to downsize and stay in the area.”

Mayor Dave Rhome also said in a news release that borough officials are excited for the project to move forward.

“Seeing the First Street School reborn as senior housing is a great outcome for Canonsburg,” he said in the release.