A team is now in place to begin crafting a plan to redevelop the former Lemoyne Middle School in Cumberland County.
The Real Estate Collaborative LLC, a subsidiary of the Cumberland Area Economic Development Corp. (CAEDC), has partnered with Allentown-based Forge Development Group to buy the former school from the West Shore School District.
CAEDC CEO Jonathan Bowser said the vacant school property along Market Street has been purchased for $250,000. The Collaborative secured the site last year and had been working to find a development partner.
The Collaborative’s new partner, Forge, is part of Butz Enterprises Inc., the parent company of Harrisburg-based Alexander Building Construction Co.
“Our plan is to stay in the project and co-develop with Forge,” Bowser said.
However, there are no current construction plans for the site, he said.
Andy Baldo, a principal at Forge, was not immediately available for comment.
The owners will hold at least two community meetings this summer to gather feedback from neighbors and help finalize a plan for the school, which could see a mix of commercial and residential development.
“At this point, the zoning allows for commercial in the front and residential in the back,” Bowser said. “We have no preconceived notions of what we want to do. We originally did, but we hit reset to allow for more community input.”
In October, Bowser envisioned just commercial uses such as retail and medical office. Earlier ideas entailed building a more mixed-use project with several apartment buildings.
Now it’s possible the school building could be included in the redevelopment plan, rather than demolished. Bowser said he would love to see an adaptive reuse of the school, but the project still has to make economic sense.
“We have to come up with a solution that is win-win. I think both sides are headed toward that goal,” Bowser said.
The owners have not scheduled any dates for the community meetings. Lancaster-based RGS Associates Inc. has been hired as the landscape architect and would lead the sessions. Alexander would serve as general contractor on the redevelopment project.
Bowser said he believes a concept plan could be in place later this fall. The goal would then be to obtain borough approvals for construction to begin sometime in 2019.
The district closed the school at the end of the 2012-13 school year in an effort to cut costs.