HAMPTON — In 2003, a panel created by City Council and School Board recommended turning a vacant Sentara hospital into a new Pre-K – 8 school, according to Kellie Goral, spokeswoman for the city’s schools.
The George C. Wythe Elementary School, located on 200 Claremont Ave. less than five minutes away from the new school, closed in 2010 and has remained vacant since.
During that time frame, the city’s school district used the building to store furniture for a couple years before working with the city’s planing department and asking for the community’s input about the school through meetings and an online survey.
In June 2014, the school district had the building tested for lead and asbestos and asked for applications from general contractors to take on the project.
Then in 2016, the School Board gave the building to the city. A year later, John Garland, a city councilman and developer from Roanoke, submitted an unsolicited proposal to renovate the building into 41 apartment units for multiple families.
The Hampton Redevelopment and Housing Authority approved the proposal on Sept. 24 and sent it to City Council for approval.
According to the proposal, Garland would buy the building, worth $349,800, for $10 due to the building’s deterioration, and agree to invest a minimum of $5 million to the project while preserving building’s Art deco style tiles and glazed owls. The city would agree reimburse Garland up to $1.1 million for asbestos, repairs and renovations.
On Nov. 14, City Council approved the Wythe Elementary School proposal, said Robin McCormick, the city’s communications strategist.
Council members voted unanimously, and while the meeting was open for public comment, no one showed up to speak in favor for or against the proposal.