The inauguration of the Fieldale School Apartments was celebrated with a February 28 ribbon cutting that was attended by several county officials and others.
Debra Buchanan, of the Horsepasture District on the Henry County Board of Supervisors, said the 23-apartment complex in the former Fieldale School building will help address housing issues.
“JRS Realty Partners, LLC, are helping lead that effort,” she said.
There are 17 one-bedroom apartments in the former school as well as four two-bedroom units, and two one-bedroom units with a loft.
Buchanan added that the Fieldale School Apartments project “is the first of four projects in a series of redevelopments called the Martinsville-Henry Historic Collective.”
Future projects include the former John Reed Smith School, the former BB&T building in Uptown Martinsville, and a loft complex on Fayette Street. The four projects will bring over 100 additional apartment spaces and several available commercial spaces to the community.
Buchanan said the projects will not only provide homes for workers but also pay homage to the historic buildings that helped shape the community.
While the purposes of the buildings may change, Buchanan said she believes history is being preserved because schools have historically been the bedrock of communities where precious resources grow and thrive.
“The renovation on the Fieldale School will allow this legacy to continue, and as our workers start their families, these halls and former classrooms will again allow children to grow and thrive,” she said.
JRS Realty Partners, LLC, partner Jim Cherney said the company got involved in the project because it was a win-win-win situation that allows the company to support the economics and opportunities of municipalities and work towards historic preservation.
An added attraction for Cherney was “creating first-rate homes that are unique and that are convenient to other resources, and most passionately affordable for the people who serve this community.”
JRS partner John Garland said the project allowed the company to breathe new life and purpose into a building that served the community for many years before falling into disrepair.
“Our first challenge was to get everything out of the building. There were $32,000 worth of dumpsters left here just to bring everything out of the school,” he said. “Then, when we got all the stuff out, we got to spend $42,000 removing asbestos.”
The restoration effort also faced supply chain challenges in getting materials for heat pumps and power and dealing with termite damage, rot and water damage, window restoration, and other issues.
“So, $3 million later we got” the building “ready to rent apartments, and we’re really excited about that,” he said.
Garland said rent is from $895 to $1,150 per month, depending on the unit and features.
“They’re negotiable because they’re different sizes. Probably the best ones are the ones off of the auditorium behind the stage because they’re loft apartments,” he said.
Chalkboards and lockers were kept because of their historic value.
“The Department of Historic Resources (DHR) tells you that you have to. So, if you don’t want to, which we wanted to, you still have to because DHR will make you,” he said.
The company decided to restore the old murals for the same reason.
“They bring memories back to the people who used to go to school there, and I just thought they were nice. They were part of the historic fabric, and we try to keep all the historic fabric of the building,” he said.
Garland said he wanted to design the apartments so he would like to live there. “We feel like they’re pretty well appointed,” he said.
For rental information, call (540) 777-3711, or visit www.hometownholdings.com.
For more information on projects in the collective, visit www.historiccollective.com.