The vacant hulk of Estee Middle School on North Main Street in Gloversville is beyond saving, according to a prospective developer.
Liberty Affordable Housing and CRM Rental Management, real estate partners based in Rome, are in serious discussions with the Fulton County Center for Regional Growth to buy the vacant 90 North Main structure as well as the current 39 apartment Estee Commons complex and an adjoining lot, according to CRG President and Chief Executive Officer Michael Reese.
Engineers and executives from both companies presented their plan for the Estee Commons parcels at a Gloversville Common Council meeting Tuesday night.
“They said the 90 Main structure would just be too hard to fix,” he said. “It’s been vacant so long.”
Liberty plans to raze that building — erecting a 40-unit senior housing complex in its place. The neighboring Estee Commons building is complete, so they plan to just operate that as is.
Originally, Reese’s organization planned to turn both vacant structures into affordable apartments.
It finished Estee Commons, “but just as we were thinking about starting work on [the middle school],” he said, “the entire housing industry collapsed. We’ve been trying to sell for a few years.”
Now, he said, Liberty and CRM Rental have the right vision for the project.
The old Estee Middle School isn’t exactly a glowing mark in favor of Gloversville.
Reese described it as “unsightly” at the moment, degraded by years of disuse. Even so, it has redeeming qualities.
“A lot of people in Gloversville went to school there,” he said. “They have fond memories.”
Certain aspects of the architecture evoke those glory-days type of memories — the imposing tall geometry and horizontal lines, the big main doors.
Even as the building is bulldozed, those details will rise again.
Reese said the companies plan to build the new structure on the same footprint, with, at least on the outside, the same general look.
On the inside though, it will be pretty different.
While Reese’s organization originally wanted to divide the middle school up into 25 units, Liberty officials plan 40 separate apartments.
Reese explained that older school buildings weren’t exactly built with efficiency in mind.
There are wide hallways, unused sections of space and a generally awkward layout.
“When you come in the main doors, you either have to go up a flight of stairs or down one,” he said. “That is not very handicapped-accessible.”
The new structure, if built, will be laid out more efficiently and constructed with green technology.