A Needham-based developer is proposing "62 apartments for active seniors 55+" at the historic Rogers School in Fairhaven. The majority of the units would be deemed affordable.

Arch Communities, LLC on Jan 11 was the sole respondent to an RFP put out by the town of Fairhaven to redevelop the former school property, which has been vacant since 2013. The Rogers School, located in Fairhaven village at 100 Pleasant St., was built in 1885 as a gift to Fairhaven from industrialist Henry Huttleston Rogers.

Plans for the "Residences at Rogers School" show the school preserved and redeveloped with eight apartments in the main building. An outdated addition would be torn down and a new addition constructed. The proposal describes open-design apartments with "high ceilings and an abundance of natural light enjoyed through oversized windows." Community amenities would include a large community room with a kitchen that opens onto an outside patio. Parking would be provided for 78 cars.

Mary Serreze/Townsquare Media
Mary Serreze/Townsquare Media

The developer promises to preserve and enhance green space and playground areas located to the south of the site. "We understand that these areas are integral to the community in a number of ways and continue to be a gathering space for children and families alike," the proposal reads.

Arch Communities describes one-bedroom units that would go for an estimated $1,000 per month at market rates, and at around $860 for those at 60% of the area's median income. Two-bedroom apartments would be $1,200 or $990 respectively. Some apartments would be available to those making only 30% of the area's median income.

As for financing, Arch Communities describes a $21.4 million project that relies upon state and federal housing tax credit equity, state funding, a conventional first mortgage, and a contribution from the town in the form of Community Preservation Act (CPA) or Community Development Block Grant funds. The local contribution must be shown to leverage the state and federal tax credits, the developers state.

Town of Fairhaven/Arch Communities
Town of Fairhaven/Arch Communities Architects Concept

Arch Communities proposes to purchase the building from the town at its appraised value of $285,000. Arch Street in its proposal provided examples of its previous work including a number of historic adaptive reuse projects in other Massachusetts communities.

"The central aspect that ties our team together is our mission to redevelop the Rogers School in a way that is architecturally attractive, historically sensitive, environmentally sustainable, community oriented and economically positive for the Town of Fairhaven," Arch Street stated.

The news comes months after a previous proposal for 14 condominiums at the site fell through. Town officials last year alleged that New England Preservation & Development failed to submit financial documents in a timely manner and canceled a purchase and sale agreement. Developer Zachary Mayo then sued the town for breach of contract. WBSM has reached out to town counsel Tom Crotty for an update on the status of that lawsuit.

Four years ago local residents packed into a public meeting and shared their thoughts about the future of the school. The majority said they wanted to see the building preserved and put to good use.

The Fairhaven Rogers School Reuse Committee discussed the new proposal from Arch Communities at its Jan. 19 meeting, according to a posted agenda.

The January 11 proposal was signed by Arch Communities principal Richard Relich and by Jason Lanagan, president of the New Bedford-based Lanagan & Co., Inc.

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