Mitchell planners back proposal for WhittierRequest to renovate old school now goes to City Council.
By: Tom Lawrence, The Daily Republic
A Mitchell businessman is one step closer to converting a closed school into apartments and offices and a commercial use.
The Mitchell Planning and Zoning Commission on Monday recommended approval of a request for a conditional use permit to convert the former Whittier Elementary School, 410 W. Second Ave., into apartments, offices and a business.
Brad Ciavarella, the principal at Ciavarella Design, of Mitchell, said work started last month on converting space for locating his firm’s offices in the building. That only required a building permit.
Now that the planners have recommended approval for the conditional use permit, if the City Council follows that recommendation at its next meeting Monday night, progress will soon begin on the rest of the project, Ciavarella said.
“Work would start immediately,” he said.
Ciavarella said from the outside, the building will look much as it does now.
“It’s a building that has tremendous architectural character. It’s unique, it’s historic and it’s very well built,” he said. “As an architect I have a lot of appreciation for that. I think it’s well-suited for multiple-unit housing use.”
The building is zoned for neighborhood shopping, and Ciavarella said he will have a tenant. It will be a service business, but he didn’t want to disclose its name.
The building was listed on the National Register for Historic Place in 1997. Ciavarella said while that will bring federal tax credits to the project, it will also mean there are limits on what can be done to the property. His company’s offices will be on the lower level of the school.
“We have to keep some of the critical, character-defining parts of the school intact, which we’re planning to do,” he said.