Magazine article Journal of Property Management

School Reborn as Seniors Housing

Magazine article Journal of Property Management

School Reborn as Seniors Housing

Article excerpt

Once an important community institution in Reading, Mass., the Pearl Street School was closed in 1984 due to declining enrollment and was mostly vacant for the next 10 years. Then developers William S. Casper and Edward Levitt decided the facility was perfect for rehabilitation and adaptive reuse as seniors housing. In 1996, the school was reincarnated as the Longwood Place at Reading assisted living complex.

The school was located in a residential neighborhood only a few blocks from the town center. Set on 4.86 acres, the building, with its 15 classrooms and an auditorium, was well suited for its new use. The double-loaded central corridor and the dimensions of the classrooms on the top floor lent themselves very well to housing, says Casper. "As did extremely large windows and tall ceilings."

Only 14 of the complex's 86 studio, one- and twobedroom apartments are in the original building. The rest are in a new, three-story addition that more than doubled the size of the facility. However, because of the historic nature of the building, the second and garden floors of the new buildings are three steps higher than the older structure. To allow access for disabled residents, elevators with doors on each side were installed, so that exits could be made to either wing.

The first floor was ideally configured for the more public common spaces, including a library, parlors, a great room, arts and craft rooms, a card room, and multipurpose/exercise room. Larger rooms are also offered to Scout troop meetings and community events. …

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