The Landmark Group (Landmark), a Winston-Salem, N.C.-based real estate development and property management firm, has entered into an agreement with the Carroll County Industrial Development Authority (IDA) to refurbish and repurpose Woodlawn School in Woodlawn.
The Carroll County IDA is contributing the building along with approximately six acres of land to the project. The plan combines grants and tax credits provided by the Virginia Housing Development Authority (VHDA) to perform required repairs and upgrades on the building while converting the building to 51 affordable one-, two- and three-bedroom apartments.
“We are really excited about this project,” said John Stiltner, Landmark’s Director of Development. “The Woodlawn School is a great building and it’s going to be a nice place for our residents to live.”
Cliff Millirons of the VHDA added that “this project fits perfectly with VHDA’s mission to provide attractive, affordable housing to Virginians.”
Carroll County Administrator and Carroll County IDA Executive Director Steve Truitt said the county could not have found a better partner to work with on the project than Landmark. In addition, Southwest Virginia-based nonprofit communtiy housing developer HOPE (Helping Overcome Poverty’s Existence, Inc.) has partnered with Landmark to assist in qualifying for and administering the tax credits.
“Our public-private partnership with Carroll County and HOPE, Inc. has been critical to the success of this project,” said Sam Sari, Landmark’s Vice President. “This would not have happened without their support.”
Andy Kegley, Executive Director of HOPE, said helping to provide quality housing units in Carroll County is 100 percent in line with the company’s mission to build community sustainability and independence.
The project will feature amenities such as a park, walking trail and children’s recreation facilities. The school’s gymnasium, which is currently used by the Carroll County Recreation Department for senior activities and youth sports, will be leased back to the county for a nominal rate when the refurbishment is complete. Landmark estimates the project will cost approximately $9.8 million.
Carroll County has applied with the Virginia Department of Historic Resources (VDRH) to have the Woodlawn School included on the State and National Registers of Historic Places, and is awaiting the result of the application.
“I have really enjoyed working with the professionals at VDRH to nominate the school for historic status,” Truitt said. “Mike Pulice of their Western Region has been so good to work with. He understands how important the school is to many people around here.”
Classes were first held at the site in 1878 at the Woodlawn Male and Female Academy. The oldest part of the current building was built in 1908, and has been added on to several times over the years. In 1917, the school became the first in the nation to offer vocational and agricultural classes funded under the Smith-Hughes Act. Vocational education, which aims to prepare a student for a job in a craft, trade or in agriculture without the need to attend college, continues to grow in popularity and influence. Landmark Developers specializes in projects that preserve the historic character of the buildings they redevelop.
Work will begin on the refurbishment project beginning in early-to-mid 2019 with a planned completion in mid-2020.