Savarino Companies

Cheektowaga Catholic School May Get New Life

The Buffalo News

2/22/2008

Savarino Construction Co. and Southeast Works have announced plans for a $6.5 million project to convert the former Our Lady of Czestochowa school on Clinton Street in Cheektowaga into apartments for people with developmental disabilities, officials said Thursday.

Construction is scheduled to be completed late next year or early in 2010, transforming the former grade school into 24 one-and two-bedroom apartments for persons with disabilities. Many of them are employed and some are living with family members or caregivers.

P. Christopher Dirr, Savarino's Vice President for Development, hailed the reuse of the former school, calling it "a good fit for the neighborhood, good for the residents and a nice investment in that community."

The new Meadowbrook Place Apartments will include a community room, lounges, a library and computer area, an outdoor garden and on-site parking for residents and guests.

Judy Shanley, Executive Director of Southeast Works, called the development "exciting," saying Meadowbrook will be the largest project of its kind so far by the nonprofit agency.

Southeast currently maintains group homes for the disabled in Depew, Lancaster and other suburbs. Shanley said Southeast will be the landlord at the Clinton Street property and will maintain supervision, training and support for residents.

Apartments will range in size from 644 to 910 square feet and will have a living room, dining area, kitchen, bathroom and energy-efficient appliances.

Dirr said the development will likely be financed as "affordable apartments" with assistance from the State Department of Housing and Community Renewal.

Early reaction from residents also seemed positive, with one saying it's better for property values to have the building being used, rather than vacant.

Developers have invited neighbors to a meeting at 1 p.m. Saturday in the school, and Cheektowaga Town Board members will hold a public hearing on the proposals at 7 p.m. Monday in the municipal building, 3301 Broadway at Union Road.

The two-story brick school at 2160 Clinton St. was closed two years ago, but the parish church, at 23 Willowlawn Parkway, remains active. Some parishioners in the predominantly Polish-American community said Thursday they welcomed the redevelopment of the building.

One neighbor also said that - rather than the school project - area residents seem to be more concerned about parish consolidations by the Catholic Diocese of Buffalo.

by Thomas J. Dolan



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