PADUCAH — A developer is planning to rehabilitate a historic landmark, create new housing, and build upon Paducah's arts scene through a major project at the former Walter C. Jetton Junior High School.
Jeremy Dyer, of The Marian Group, a Louisville-based real estate developer, told Local 6 the Jetton project's development cost is estimated at about $14.5 million. Developers plan to use housing tax credits and state and federal historic tax credits to help finance the project.
The project is expected to include 60 workforce housing units and partnerships with arts-centered nonprofits that will offer training and education. Additionally, it will feature a restored symphony hall as part of the approximately 98,000 square-foot property's 'gut rehab.'
Dyer says the group hopes to close on the property in September, which the Sun says was confirmed by the current owner Frank Mosko, putting its potential construction start 'hopefully' in October. He estimates it could take around 18 months of construction.
The Jetton School was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1995. The registration says Augusta Tilghman High School, later named Walter C. Jetton Junior High School, opened in 1921.
The building served as a school until 1980 and was later used by the Paducah Symphony Orchestra, Paducah Parks and Recreation and Paducah Board of Education, according to nps.gov. It was reopened as affordable housing in 1999.
The current owner purchased the property for $50,000 and the rehab project cost around $1.4 million.
Mosko says the building have 'pretty must reached its life expectancy' and is ready to be rehabbed again.
Marian Group plans to rehabilitate the existing 21 housing units, which are currently the Jetton Schoolhouse Apartments, and convert the gymnasium and library buildings into 39 additional units. The new apartments will be named "The Dunlap," in honor of late Paducah native Mollie Dunlap, an African American librarian who made notable contributions in her field.
Dyer says there will be a preference for artists, but the apartments are open to anybody.
Nineteen of the apartments are currently occupied and the tenants are aware of the rehabilitation.
Dyer says the tenants will have to temporarily relocate, but he doesn't have details yet on when they will have to do that.
Additionally,it would be the tenants' decision on whether they wanted to come back, and the Marian Group would pay for one-time moving expenses if they decide not to.
The symphony hall and part of the library will become what Dyer described as a community service facility.
“That’ll serve primarily low-income residents of Paducah, not just our building, but throughout Paducah, and it’ll be open for them for arts education, arts training, entrepreneurship training and also entertainment purposes,” says Dyer. “Because it’ll be a working symphony hall in the end."
The Marian Group will partner with two nonprofits that specialize in visual arts and performing arts, which are expected to lease space and provide educational and training opportunities. The group has commitments from the nonprofits and it's still in the negotiation process, according to the Sun.
The Paducah Symphony Orchestra is one of the nonprofits.
Executive Director Reece King says there are details to be finalized, but the symphony aims to relocate administrative offices to the Jetton property and launch a music academy, offering instrument lessons at below at below market value.
King says the academy would have space to bring in area musicians to teach private lessons for instruments, in an effort to fill in gaps that aren't currently offered in the community.
The move would signify a full-circle moment for the organization, as it performed at the symphony hall for many years before moving to another venue in Paducah.
King stressed that the PSO is not leaving the Carson Center for symphony concerts and rehearsals.
The project is in the closing process and has different steps of approval to pass, like rezoning and parking requirements. Rezoning requests and a waiver of some parking requirements were on Monday's Paducah Planning Commission agenda.
This was temporarily tabled to another meeting for Marian Group to get things finalized for parking, according to Planning Director Tammara Tracy, who called it a 'very exciting' project.