After two decades, the halls of East Haven High School in East Haven, Connecticut, come alive when residents move into The Tyler next week.
The high school, which was built in phases between 1936 and 1973, closed its doors in 1998 and fell into disrepair. The city of East Haven wanted to breathe new life into the historic building and create a community good. She used WinnDevelopment to transform the main wing of the building into critical, affordable living space for seniors 55 and over. In return for a reduction in the purchase price, the city has retained the property and can finance a multi-million dollar renovation of the rear wings of the building with the pool, auditorium and gym.
The Boston-based developer has converted the four-story, 104,871-square-foot brick building that formed the academic core of the structure into 70 units – 40% is 40% of the Area Median Income (AMI), 10% is 80% AMI, and 30% is up the market and the rest is reserved for households currently homeless or at risk of becoming homeless.
The Tyler is the overall winner of Affordable Housing Finance’s annual Readers’ Choice Awards for key developments in the country in 2019 and 2020. Magazine and newsletter subscribers also voted the project the best green development.
Due to some COVID-related material and labor shortages, the project was delayed slightly in the summer. An occupancy certificate for the 1936 building was issued this week and was scheduled for the 1964 building in mid-October. However, there was great interest. 68% of the Tyler is pre-let for the 50 affordable units and 15% for the 20 standard units.
“This building has been empty for over 20 years and the city and its residents are very happy that this landmark is saved,” says Adam Stein. “The school is a symbol of community and connects with the people who worked there or attended as children, and the residents are drawn to the fact that we are making them viable again.”
The Tyler not only meets the needs of the community, but also has outstanding sustainability features. It is said to be the first multi-family project in the country to use historical rehabilitation tax credits and meet the strict EnerPHit standard of the Germany-based Passive House Institute for Energy Efficiency. It is also expected to be the first EnerPHit certified multi-family project in Connecticut and one of the largest in the US
“It will be the first of its kind and I see it as transformative for the entire industry,” said Christina McPike, director of energy and sustainability at WinnCompanies.
The renovation includes improved HVAC and utilities; highly efficient exterior wall, ceiling and roof insulation; and Energy Star LED lighting and appliances. The homes are expected to use about 20% less energy on average than an Energy Star equivalent house would use. By maintaining the historical structure, which is considered the most sustainable form of development, the project will also avoid 18,000 tons of greenhouse gas emissions.
“We achieve the performance targets with heating, cooling and ventilation, but due to the historical nature of the process, we cannot achieve this with the normal item checklist,” says McPike. “We can achieve energy efficiency and meet historical requirements.”
The $ 31.7 million development funding includes low-income residential tax credits issued by the Connecticut Housing Finance Authority, as well as federal and state historic credits through the Connecticut State Historic Preservation Office and the National Park Service. Bank of America provided the equity for all three tax credits. Other funding partners include the Connecticut Department of Housing, the Federal Home Loan Bank of Boston, Citizens Bank, BlueHub Capital and Energize Connecticut.
Other partners in the development are Steven Winter Associates, who contributed to the integration of the EnerPhit standards of the passive house. Architect The team of architects; and general contractor Keith Construction. Columbus House will offer economic empowerment programs to local residents, including financial self-sufficiency, fraud prevention, health education and medication management.
The adaptive reuse of the historic school will not only benefit residents and the environment in the years to come, but will also continue to give something back to the community.
“The Tyler will not only provide high quality, stable housing for residents aged 55 and over, but will also provide economic benefit to the community in the form of stable neighborhood buildings, ongoing property taxes, and continued investment in the area,” Stein said.
The winners will be announced in the November / December edition of Affordable Housing Finance and during the AHF Live virtual conference on Thursday, November 19.