The City of Sandusky City Commission approved the sale of the Osborne School building to Community Building Partners, LLC (CBP) at their meeting on Monday, November 27, 2023, for the purpose of converting the building into an affordable senior housing development. Additionally, the City Commission approved a grant agreement between the City and CBP to help finance the project using funds from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA). The City had recently acquired the Osborne School property from Sandusky City Schools in November 2023, with the intent to foster an affordable senior housing project at the site.

“We are thrilled to partner with Community Building Partners on this project,” said Colleen Gilson, the City’s Director of Community Development. “Developing affordable senior housing units can be challenging financially, and we are fortunate to have found a partner who has a distinguished track record with these types of projects, as well as having the resources through our ARPA funding to help bridge the financial gap.”

The City and CBP will enter into a purchase agreement that lays out the terms of the sale and requires the developer to adhere to the project proposal they submitted to the City. The proposal includes:

  • Renovation of all existing improvements at 920 West Osborne Street
  • Adherence to the Secretary of the Interior Standards of Historic Preservation for all interior and exterior work
  • Addition of modern safety and accessibility improvements including an elevator, sprinkler system, ADA-compliant accessibility to the building, and full ADA accessibility to select living units
  • Creation of a minimum of 20 living units, proposed as 1- and 2-bedroom dwellings, and age restricted to 55+
  • Creation of an interior common room / appropriate capacity to host wrap-around services such as healthcare consultation for residents
  • Enhancement and retention of the playground area open to community access
  • Exterior parking, lighting, and landscape improvements

The purchase agreement outlines a due diligence period of 5 months, with an expected execution of the purchase in May 2024. After the financing is secured in late 2024, the City and CBP anticipate that construction could begin in March 2025. CBP will also create and enact a community engagement plan to engage neighborhood residents in the process.

“We’re excited to restore this beautiful building while also creating a new source of affordable housing for seniors in Sandusky,” said Joseph Recchie, CEO of Community Building Partners. “Our work is founded on the belief that equitable growth in a community serves the entire region and beyond. We’re looking forward to partnering with local organizations, businesses, and neighborhood residents to ensure a collaborative and successful development.”

CBP is a mission-based for-profit developer with a wealth of experience in scoping large, complex projects— including both adaptive reuse and new construction —and in using tax credits, loans, and grants to finance projects for public benefit. CBP is based in Columbus, Ohio.

Originally built in 1890, Osborne Elementary School served as a neighborhood elementary school for over a century. In 2021, Sandusky City Schools opened three new school buildings– the Early Learning Academy, Primary School, and Intermediate School– and Osborne School was permanently closed that same year. The building is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is a protected city landmark.

“Many cities across the country have unfortunately seen their beautiful historic school buildings meet the wrecking ball because they had fallen into disrepair after years of neglect and vacancy,” said the City’s Chief Planner Arin Blair. “Fortunately, Sandusky has most of its historic limestone school buildings still intact, and this project ensures that Osborne School will remain a valued city landmark for generations to come.”

The purchase agreement between the City and CBP includes a negotiated sale price of $100,000, and the City will pay half the closing costs. The grant agreement outlines that the City will contribute $750,000 in ARPA money toward the project.

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