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Former Yarmouth high school building being eyed for development of up to 55 apartment dwellings

['<p>The old Yarmouth high school on Parade Street.&nbsp; TINA COMEAU PHOTO</p>']
['<p>The old Yarmouth high school on Parade Street.  TINA COMEAU PHOTO</p>']

YARMOUTH, N.S. – A proposal has come to the Town of Yarmouth to construct up to 55 apartment dwellings inside the old Yarmouth high school building on Parade Street.

The process now involves the approval of a development agreement.

At its Sept. 13 monthly meeting, Yarmouth town council approved a recommendation from the Planning Advisory Committee to proceed to a public hearing “in order to consider, and if deemed advisable, approve the development agreement to permit construction of the apartment dwellings.”

A report from the planning committee that came to the council meeting reads: “The former high school has been vacant for some time and has been a financial burden to maintain in condition for future use. Construction of the apartments will add to the housing stock of the community and will have a positive effect on tax revenues.”

While a previous proposal for the building looked at the possibility of seniors’ apartment dwellings inside the building, this proposal is for all-ages apartments.

The report that came to council said developers Paul Underhill and John Hannam are under agreement to purchase the former high school at 52 Parade Street from the town.

Onsite parking consisting of one parking space for each of the 55 units would need to be provided. Access to the parking would be from Parade Street and Grand Street.

The former high school became the responsibility of the town in December 2014 after the Tri-County Regional School Board determined it was surplus to their needs. The school had closed in June 2012 after a new Yarmouth high school opened September 2012 on Forest Street. The Education Act says schools that are no longer used by a school board are turned back over to the municipal unit they are located in.

The upkeep and maintenance of the building has been costing the town around $120,000 a year. Over the years the vacant building has seen some vandalism and break-ins.

Last year a local businessman had made an offer on the building and was gauging interest of establishing affordable seniors’ apartments in the renovated building. That proposal did not proceed and the school remained on the real estate market. Prior to that expression of interest, the town and another potential purchaser, Somerled Properties, had mutually agreed to terminate a different purchase and sale agreement after the developer decided the building wasn’t the right fit to what they were looking for.

The property was put back on the market at that time at a price of $374,900.

In 2015 the property had been assessed at $1,009,200.

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