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  • Cathy O’Connor

Vacant school properties bring opportunity

Over the past couple of decades, enrollment in urban schools in many cities across the country has declined. The same has happened in the Oklahoma City Public Schools district, leading to a surplus in school facilities.

With high-quality redevelopment, these vacant buildings can once again become assets to the community. The buildings are often prime candidates for eco-friendly redevelopment, with large windows providing an abundance of natural light and multi-story designs making them more efficient to heat and cool.

The most common reuse of former school buildings is for educational purposes, but there are many other possibilities as well. Depending on the market and the needs of the community, these buildings can be redeveloped into apartments, senior living facilities, office buildings, workforce development centers and a variety of other uses.

Aside from the needs of the community, the future use of these buildings often depends on available local, state and federal funds such as tax increment financing, new markets tax credits and historic tax credits where applicable. Electrical, plumbing, and HVAC systems often must be replaced, and environmental abatement of asbestos and lead paint often must take place. Financially, it can be very difficult to redevelop former school facilities without the help of outside funding sources and economic development tools.

Read the full article at The Journal Record

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