Public hearing will discuss Foster Elementary obsolete property certificate 

February 13, 2023

MCP file photo

Public hearing will discuss Foster Elementary obsolete property certificate 

LUDINGTON — A public hearing will be held tonight to consider granting the developer of the former Foster Elementary School an obsolete property rehabilitation certificate. Following the public hearing, City Council is expected to take action on the request through a resolution. 

Datum Point Real Estate Development of Grand Rapids purchased the property in the 500 block of East Foster Street in 2022 for $20,000. The building was closed by Ludington Area Public Schools in January 2022 following the opening of the new Ludington Elementary School on West Bryant Road in Pere Marquette Township. 

According to city records, the developer  the plan for the site was to demolish the existing school and to build four multi-family townhouse buildings. With a mix of seven, two and three bedroom townhomes in each building, a total of 28 units were planned.

Changes in the economy and struggles with building material availability and pricing, resulted in the developer to reevaluate the project in an attempt to provide a higher unit density. Rather than razing the building, the developer chose to reuse the existing school building by way of an adaptive reuse ordinance. The project will now include 38 units in a mix of one, two and three bedroom apartments for rent and loft townhomes for sale. The developer will also build one of the originally planned new construction townhouse buildings across Foster Street on the site of the existing basketball courts and ball field. 

The Obsolete Property Rehabilitation Act (OPRA), PA 146 of 2000, provides property tax exemptions for commercial and commercial housing properties that are rehabilitated and meet the requirements of the act. Properties must meet eligibility requirements including a statement of obsolescence by the local assessor. The property must be located in an established Obsolete Property Rehabilitation District, which was created by City Council during its Jan. 23, 2023 regular meeting. 

The building of the 38 units in the existing school will begin with a selective demolition of the middle section of the building. The original two story portion on Foster Street, the gymnasium on Filer Street and the classroom wings that run along Emily and Lavania streets will all remain. The developer’s paperwork stated the middle, least historic and most poorly planned portion of the building will be removed and replaced with nine apartment units that will surround a new internal open air courtyard. 

Completion of the project is expected to be completed in March 2024. 

City Council meets at 6 p.m. at the Municipal Building, 400 S. Harrison St.

The Foster Elementary School building was built in 1886 as Ludington’s Central School and served as Ludington High School until 1957. The building has had a number of renovations and expansions throughout the years, but the original Central School portion of the building is a two-story brick structure facing south on East Foster Street. The original Foster Elementary School was built in 1905 and was located directly across Foster Street where the current playground, basketball courts and ball fields sit. 

In 1925 Oriole Hall, the existing school gymnasium and 16 classrooms were added. In 1957, a new high school was built and Central School became the junior high. In 1967, the original Foster School was torn down and Central School became the new Foster Elementary School. The junior high was moved to the newly built O.J. DeJonge Junior High School (later renamed to O.J. DeJonge Middle School). 

In 1969, the addition of 10,500 square feet of new space including a new library and five classrooms. In 1991, an additional 9,400 square feet were added. In 2008, 4,000 square feet was added to create two new classrooms. 

To read more about the history of the building, click here: A look at history of Ludington schools.

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