Wing School Could Become Senior Housing Complex

The Henry T. Wing School was built in 1927.

SANDWICH – Selectmen in Sandwich have been presented with a recommendation for the future use of the former Henry T. Wing School.

A group reviewing two proposals is supporting the plan for affordable housing for seniors.

The proposal review group is made up of town officials, a current and former member of the Board of Selectmen and a Zoning Board of Appeals member.

The recommended plan was submitted by the Stratford Capital Group. The group submitted a bid to purchase the property from the town for $1.265 million to develop the property into mixed-income senior housing.

The 128-unit development would be constructed in three phases.

The proposal would retain the 1927 portion of the building and demolish the rest and build affordable elderly housing for seniors at least 62 years of age.

Town Planner Ralph Vitacco said the proposal was the most responsive and responsible, and meets all the objectives that board and the town put forward in the Request for Proposals.

“The proposal preserves the 1927 building, it puts the property on the tax roll, and it provides much needed affordable senior housing,” Vitacco said.

In its proposal, Stratford Capital cited current demographics which indicate an aging population and the upcoming need for more housing for seniors.

“The developers who gave us the proposal have done many projects like this before,” Vitacco said.

Vitacco said the review group looked at Stratford Capital’s local projects – the Coady School in Bourne and the Simpkins School in Yarmouth.

The review team was impressed by the professionalism of the group during an interview.

“We were impressed with their commitment to work with the town and the community to develop a project which complements the neighborhood,” Vitacco said.

The $1.265 million purchase price is more than the current value of the school, according to Vitacco.

The proposal also requests $2.65 million in Community Preservation Act funding. That money would be needed to secure Department of Housing and Community Development approval and funding.

That CPA funds would break down to $20,500 per unit. In comparison, Terrapin Ridge, on Quaker Meeting House Road, had a CPA commitment of $47,000 per unit.

The Board of Selectmen took the recommendation under advisement and tabled a vote.

Vitacco said decisions need to be made in short order. He said timetables in the RFP need to be honored, negotiations with Stratford need to begin, and the project must be prepared for annual Town Meeting.

“Most importantly we have to make sure the Cape Cod Collaborative knows where they stand,” Vitacco said.

Cape Cod Collaborative is the current leasee of the building.

The collaborative provides educational services for individuals with special needs and multiple handicaps. The organization’s alternative middle and high school relocated to the former Wing School in 2017.

The current lease runs through June 2020.

The collaborative submitted the other proposal that was considered.

The organization is seeking to extend that lease to 2023 with an option through 2025 for $50,000 per year.

The proposal would need to be approved by the board and Town Meeting voters.

About Brian Merchant

Brian Merchant grew up in Central Massachusetts and now lives in South Dennis on the Cape. He has been part of the news team in the NewsCenter since the spring of 2014. He studied radio broadcasting at the University of Tennessee.
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