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Developer turning old school site into apartments cites strong demand from aging population (3 photos)

'We have a three-page list of people who want in'

It’s a big job, but progress is being made on the transformation of the former St. Theresa elementary school on Estelle Street into rental units for seniors.

Carlo Gervasi, a Sault realtor and developer, is redeveloping the building into a one-level retirement living complex, consisting of 25 air conditioned apartment units, including three units for people with disabilities and a common area.

Gervasi is part of a group of developers behind the project, including local business person Brandon Stubbs.

“Basically, it’s a good redevelopment of a vacated property, and on the Ruth Street side where the ball fields were (north of Estelle Street) we put in six semi-detached lots as well and we have future plans to develop that back section and build two-bedroom semis, all catering to the aging population whose kids are gone and looking to downsize. A lot of them are selling their homes and moving into these types of complexes with low maintenance,” Gervasi said, speaking to SooToday.

“We have a three page list of people who want in. We’re fulfilling a need.”

All necessary demolition has been completed on the old school, with work done on the roof, covered patios installed, repurposing of the building continuing.

“There’s been a lot of work just to get it at the stage it’s at right now. Everything takes time with the city, with permits,” Gervasi said.

“Right from the planning department, up to the whole fifth floor building division, they’ve been fantastic to work with, so much support,” said Gervasi of city hall staff throughout the development process.

Gervasi previously developed 19 rental units on Connaught Avenue and five on Elmwood Avenue.

In addition, Gervasi and his business partners have sold the adjacent former Jesse Irving Children’s Centre to a local company for institutional use, the developer stating the buyer company plans to run its head office and training facility from the former daycare property.

“We’re gearing up for late fall, but more than likely early spring...we want to do it right,” said Gervasi when asked for an opening date for the rental units on the former St. Theresa site.

Gervasi said the cost to redevelop the former school is approximately $4 million, another $1.2 million for building new units near the Jesse Irving site.

Gervasi said he and his business partners purchased the former school in May 2018, the former daycare centre in Nov. 2018.

“There’s a big need, no doubt. I’m getting about five calls a week, and a lot of it’s been through word of mouth.”

“When I’m pushing my lawn mower every Friday in the summer I think ‘I wish I lived in one of my units’ because somebody else does the grass, and the snow in the winter,” he chuckled.  

Gervasi said those interested in being added to the current list of potential tenants may call 705-575-3888.

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Darren Taylor

About the Author: Darren Taylor

Darren Taylor is a news reporter and photographer in Sault Ste Marie. He regularly covers community events, political announcements and numerous board meetings. With a background in broadcast journalism, Darren has worked in the media since 1996.
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