Neighboring homeowners are keeping their fingers crossed over new hopes for old school sites.
So are we.
Newport Development will present plans this Thursday for a proposed condominium development on the site of the former Wind Point Elementary School, 290 Jonsue Lane.
Meanwhile, the Village of Caledonia has inked a $1.45 million purchase agreement with Racine Unified School District for the former Olympia Brown Elementary School, 5915-5919 Erie St., with plans to find a suitable site developer by next May.
Wind Point Elementary was closed in 2013 and the school itself was razed by Newport Development last year, leaving three piles of gravel and sand, a few trees and some open land. The old Olympia Brown has sat empty since the end of the 2016-17 school year when it moved to a new school not far away.
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Buildings at both sites have sometimes been targeted by vandals and trespassers — as has the long-abandoned former Western Publishing building across the street from Olympia Brown.
Small wonder then that neighbors (and taxpayers) would welcome the idea of converting these lands (and buildings) back to constructive uses.
The devil, as always, lies in the details. Newport’s condominium plans will be unveiled at 6 p.m. Thursday at Prairie School, 4050 Lighthouse Drive. The number of proposed condos and the scope of the development has still not been announced. Newport owner Ray Leffler said last week: “We’re going to gather their (Wind Point residents’) input, see what they think, then we’ll make modifications and do things based on their comments.”
The Olympia Brown sale gives the village the chance to hunt up a developer for the school site and perhaps pair it with the adjacent Western Publishing site which the village also now owns. The properties, with their Lake Michigan frontage, have some attractive development potential. If the village is not successful in finding a developer, however, the school and site would revert back to the school district next spring.
We hope both plans work out and these abandoned old school sites can find new life and purpose in other uses and at the same time get back on the tax rolls.