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Voke school to be apartments; 1- and 2-bedroom mixed-income housing could start at $1,100.

Byline: Priyanka Dayal McCluskey

The following correction was published in the Telegram & Gazette on July 4, 2012:

The former Worcester Vocational High School building slated to be renovated into loft apartments is located at 34 Grove St. (also known as 2 Grove St.) Because of a reporter's error, the wrong building was pictured with a story about the renovations in yesterday's Telegram & Gazette.

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WORCESTER - A Boston developer yesterday detailed plans to transform the city's century-old former vocational school to a complex of affordable and market-rate loft apartments.

WinnDevelopment, a division of WinnCompanies, is planning a $30 million project that includes a complete renovation of the inside of the historic Grove Street building. The plans call for 84 one- and two-bedroom apartments, to be called the Voke Lofts. Half of the units will rent at market rate, while the other half will rent at discounted rates for lower-income tenants.

The developer plans to buy the property for $1.7 million from its current owner, the Worcester Business Development Corp., said Gilbert Winn, managing principal at WinnCompanies. The WBDC WBDC Women's Business Development Center (various locations)
WBDC Web Based Data Capture
WBDC Wideband Direct Connectivity
WBDC Woodhaven Baptist Deaf Church
 bought the school complex for $1.2 million, according to according to
prep.
1. As stated or indicated by; on the authority of: according to historians.

2. In keeping with: according to instructions.

3.
 the Registry of Deeds registry of deeds n. the records of land title documents kept by the County Recorder or Recorder of Deeds. These are usually kept on microfilm reels of copies of the original documents, which can be found by tracing the names of owners in the Grantor-Grantee index. .

Mr. Winn said the firm decided to rehabilitate re·ha·bil·i·tate
v.
1. To restore to good health or useful life, as through therapy and education.

2. To restore to good condition, operation, or capacity.
 the former Worcester Vocational High School after the success of another redevelopment project it did in Worcester. WinnDevelopment renovated the former Chevalier Furniture property on Water Street into apartments called Canal Lofts.

"Three months after construction was completed, we fully leased the building, and now we have a waiting list," he said. "So clearly, there's a need in the marketplace for mixed-income housing."

The development company is receiving $3.5 million in state housing tax credits, as well as $5 million in federal tax credits for the rehabilitation rehabilitation: see physical therapy.  of historic properties, according to Mr. Winn.

Construction is scheduled to begin next spring and continue for 14 months.

The vocational school site was identified as a good location for housing several years ago, said Jonathan M. Weaver, project manager for the WBDC.

"We're encouraged," he said. "This was part of the Gateway Park master plan... It identified the voke school as an ideal location for housing. We're happy to see this moving forward because it activates that area a little bit."

Already, the redevelopment of the property has cost $1.2 million. The land was contaminated contaminated,
v 1. made radioactive by the addition of small quantities of radioactive material.
2. made contaminated by adding infective or radiographic materials.
3. an infective surface or object.
 by underground petroleum tanks. Last year, crews finished remediation, which included asbestos removal and the excavation of more than 1,000 tons of contaminated soil. New Garden Park Inc., a nonprofit entity of the WBDC, received two $400,000 grants - one from the federal government and one from the state - and contributed another $400,000 to clean up the property.

As part of the cleanup, other structures that were part of the school had to be razed. "We removed those buildings, then removed the oil," Mr. Weaver said.

The historic qualities of remaining school building make it a challenge to renovate, but also give it character. The lofts will have high ceilings, big windows and exposed brick - features that are not likely to be found in new construction. The facade of the structure will remain the same.

The project initially was intended for residents older than 55, but after considering market studies, WinnDevelopment decided to open it up to the broader population.

Asking rents for the Canal Lofts on Water Street start at about $1,000 or $1,100 a month. The Voke Lofts may cost more. "This area may even command slight premium, as much as $100," Mr. Winn said.

Built in stages from 1909, the former school is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

ART: PHOTO (SEE PUBLISHED CORRECTION)

CUTLINE: The former vocational school is to become a complex of affordable and market-rate loft apartments.

PHOTOG pho·tog  
n. Informal
A person who takes photographs, especially as a profession; a photographer.
: T&G Staff/CHRISTINE PETERSON
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Title Annotation:BUSINESS
Publication:Telegram & Gazette (Worcester, MA)
Date:Jul 3, 2012
Words:629
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