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  • Steve Lackmeyer

$25 million project to turn vacant northeast oklahoma city school into apartments will begin soon

The former Page Woodson School at 600 N High Ave. in Oklahoma City will house 68 apartments.

A $25 million redevelopment of the former Page Woodson School in northeast Oklahoma City is set to begin this summer and will include a restoration of the auditorium that once hosted jazz legend Duke Ellington.

Developer Ron Bradshaw bought the dormant school, 600 N High Ave., from Oklahoma City Public Schools in December 2013. He won approval for the project Wednesday from the Oklahoma City Urban Renewal Authority, and previously from the National Park Service, which oversees renovations of properties on the National Register of Historic Places. Plans call for conversion of the school into 68 affordable apartments, with another 68 units in a new apartment building to be designed by architect Hans Butzer.

Bradshaw said he has spent months going through plans with the National Park Service to ensure it remains listed on the National Register of Historic Places and also to qualify for historic tax credits.

“A classroom will become a one-bedroom unit, a larger classroom will become two bedrooms, and the corridors will remain the same,” Bradshaw said. “This will be a really neat development.”

The project will use bond financing that will require it to be rented as affordable housing, with residents earning no more than 60 percent of the city’s median income, for 15 years. A one-bedroom unit will rent for $655 a month, and a two-bedroom unit will rent for $750 a month.

Most rents in nearby downtown, meanwhile, typically start at more than $1,000 a month.

Bradshaw said he has visited with residents in the surrounding John F. Kennedy neighborhood and with officials from the OU Medical Center to ensure the project proceeds with their support.

“We are endeavoring to provide a service to the neighborhood and those employed at the Health Sciences Center,” Bradshaw said.

Lingo Construction, which has won rave reviews in reconstructing historic properties including the Marion Hotel on Automobile Alley, is set to oversee work at the school. About $600,000 will be spent on asbestos removal and environmental cleanup.

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