Trish Bennett, Editor
CIRCLEVILLE – The future of the gymnasium and industrial arts building at Everts Middle School is now the focus of Circleville City Council as progress continues on converting the main building into a senior housing facility.
The public is invited to attend a Committee of the Whole meeting set for 7 p.m. July 14 in which council will discuss its desires and options for the two remaining buildings.
“We hope to come out of that meeting with some ideas to put together a request for proposals for people who might be eager to use these facilities,” said David M. Crawford, council president. “We already have a few people who have expressed interest in those buildings. We just want to make sure we’re as clear and transparent as possible in this process.”
The Woda Group Inc., a Westerville-based developer, received confirmation June 17 of grant funding through the Ohio Housing Finance Agency for a project to convert the main Everts school building into senior housing units while preserving the 99-year-old building’s historical look and feel.
PICCA will serve as Woda’s non-profit partner in the project that will provide about 49 affordable housing units for people age 55 and older through the estimated $12 million project.
Michael Krause, representative of The Woda Group, updated city council on progress of the project at its regular meeting Tuesday. He said the construction company, owners and architects were set to tour the building Wednesday to make sure everyone was on the same page before a final application is submitted to OHFA in late September.
Tom Spring, city council member, and Gayle Spangler, city auditor, were on hand June 26 when the Ohio Historic Site Preservation Advisory Committee voted unanimously to recommend the listing of the main Everts building (originally Circleville High School) on the National Register of Historic Places.
According to Spring, the committee recommended the school be listed under Criterion A for its significance in the history of education in Circleville and its representation of broad trends of public education in Ohio in the 20th century, and under Criterion C as an example of architecture by architect Frank Packard.
The city’s letter requesting nomination for the National Register of Historic Places can be found here.
“The state’s Historic Preservation Office has a really good reputation with the National Park Service, and we have no concerns that application won’t be approved,” Krause said.
The company also will be submitting an application in September for a state Historic Tax Credit award for additional funding, which Krause said is a very competitive application process.
He said with final applications submitted in September, the purchase of the building likely will not close until April or May of 2016. At that time, construction will begin and should take about 12 months to complete.
Krause said Tuesday he was uncertain if there would be any regulations regarding the gymnasium and industrial arts building that are attached to the main Everts building but not part of the Woda project.
He said typically the National Park Service doesn’t have any authority over those buildings, but in a similar situation with Woda’s housing project in Washington Court House, there could be no cosmetic changes to those attached buildings for five years.
“I know you’re meeting very soon to discuss those buildings, and I will try to get you something more definitive by the end of this week,” Krause said.
Crawford said he does not believe such restrictions would cause any issues for the city to move forward with finding a use for the two attached buildings.
“He said one of those agencies might request no cosmetic changes be made to either of those buildings in the next five years,” Crawford said. “If that’s the worst-case scenario, I don’t think we’ll be too concerned. I wouldn’t expect any new owners to make any cosmetic changes within that time.”
To be listed in the National Register of Historic Places, a property must be at least 50 years of age, retain its historic integrity and meet one of four criteria, Spring said. Other possible criteria are sites that are associated with important people of the past or have the potential to yield significant information about history or prehistory (i.e., archaeology).
The next step will be for the Ohio Historic Preservation Office to forward the nomination to the Interior Department in July, he said. Federal staff will review the nomination during a 30-day period with an announcement likely around Sept. 1.
Spring said Circleville properties listed on the National Register include the William Marshall Anderson, Ansel Walling, and Morris houses, 131, 146, and 149 W. Union Street, respectively; Memorial Hall, Watt-Groce-Fickardt House and Matthew McCrea House, at 165, 360 and 428 E. Main St., respectively; and St. Philip’s Episcopal Church, 129 W. Mound St.
The Circleville Historic District, also on the National Register, includes many contributing properties along Court Street extending from the south side of Union Street north to Pinckney and Watt streets, along West Main Street between Court and Scioto streets, East Main Street from Court to the first alley east, and portions of Franklin and Mound Streets near Court Street.
About 21 other properties in Pickaway County are listed, Spring said. A current listing can be found here.
This article originally appeared on The Pickaway News Journal