A Madison developer presented the Aberdeen School Board with an option purchase for the former Aberdeen Middle School if he is awarded tax credits to transform it into senior living units.

ABERDEEN – Members of the Aberdeen School Board are considering an option for a developer to purchase a vacated school building in order to pursue tax credits to transform it into living units for those 55 and older.

The building, which was first Aberdeen High School and later Aberdeen Middle School, caught the attention of a Madison developer who has done similar renovations with the former Hattiesburg and Pascagoula High School buildings.

“We’d like to bring programs run by the Mississippi Home Corporation, which is our housing finance corporation in the state. It utilizes tax credits. That program is only advertised once a year. In March, the window will open for applications. We developers have to put in appraisals, we look at the environmentals and market studies. It’s pretty expensive to put in one of these applications. We think this is a real good opportunity to get these credits,” said Intervest Corp President Steve Nail during last week’s school board meeting.

The program awards tax credits, which are sold to investors.

“They, in turn, give us the money to buy down the costs of the renovation. What costs $10 million, we only end up with about a $1 million mortgage, which what that allows me to do is lease back to people who have 60 percent area medium income and lower at a rate that is very affordable,” he said.

He said one bedroom units would be $500 per month, with two beds ranging from $650 to $700 per month.

School board president Jim Edwards asked if Nail has done the marketing for the demand, adding from personal experience Monroe Regional Hospital’s Assisted Living units stay full, but Personal Place currently has several available units.

“This looks like a Personal Place, and we can’t even fill what we have. It seems like there’s a greater demand for assisted living. Have you considered assisted living?,” he asked.

Nail said the program doesn’t allow it, but it does allow him to rent units with full kitchens, bathrooms and living rooms with central corridor hallways.

Aberdeen Middle School hasn’t been used by the district since early 2010, when it was vacated after asbestos was detected.

“Of course, we’ve got to prepare for the future. We can’t keep that building maintained forever and not occupied. It’s either now, five years from now or 10 years from now and each year it sits there unoccupied, the value and the assets go down. We understand all that, but we also have an elementary school right next door, and safety for that elementary school is our number one priority,” Edwards said. “Whatever plans you come up with, you have to have a major plan to have the elementary school be safe and somehow separated from this unit.”

Nail said a fence and security is part of the plan. He added tenants must have income, and many of them through previous projects live on Social Security or retirement.

“I try to bundle services, and one of the best examples is I was just awarded credits on the old Carnation plant in Tupelo. The University of Mississippi is allowing us to have a cart that will do telehealth services,” he said. “The Itawamba Community College is going to provide meals because they have a culinary school. The First Presbyterian Church has a transportation program.”

If Nail isn’t awarded the tax credits in August, he will release the option back to the school district. The option to buy is $50,000. There will be no cost to the school district.

School board members are reviewing the option to purchase and plan to regroup with Nail within the next week or so.

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