SC school board expects to hear update on Mary Crapo in January

SWARTZ CREEK — Swartz Creek Community Schools Superintendent Ben Mainka says he expects to get a progress report on the Mary Crapo project in mid- January.

Representatives from Communities First, Inc., the non-profit organization that has an option to purchase the former school, are expected to give a presentation at the Wednesday, Jan. 13, Board of Education meeting.

“I’m anxiously awaiting that explanation,” Mainka said.

Currently, Mainka is unsure of the status.

Records indicate that Communities First is seeking to extend the option to purchase the property through May. The option currently expires Feb. 1.

The extension request comes after the state turned down Communities First’s request for funding the first time around. They are reportedly planning to re-apply, and expect to have an answer before June.

“There are different funding rounds,” said Mainka. “It’s common to not get approved the first time. It happened a couple of times on projects they did in Flint, according to what they’re telling us.”

The school district shuttered Mary Crapo late in 2018.

Communities First, which has redeveloped several abandoned Flint schools into affordable senior citizen housing communities, proposes to overhaul Mary Crapo, making it a 40-unit apartment building.

The one- and two-bedroom units would rent for $343 to $1,100 depending on tenant income.

A condition of the sale limits occupancy to residents age 50 or older, with allowances made for younger spouses.

So far, the City of Swartz Creek has approved the site plan and a request to rezone the property to allow for multifamily dwelling.

However, the fate of the former ballfield remains undetermined.

Last February, area residents packed city hall for a public reception hosted by Communities First. Some offered support for the project, some opposed it, mostly on the grounds that they do not want any more low-income housing in Swartz Creek, and they do not want to lose the ballfield at the southwest corner of the property.

Communities First has offered to lease the southern 2.8 acres to the City of Swartz Creek, on the condition the city maintain the ball diamond.

City officials have so far rejected that idea, saying they are not interested in upkeep of a ballfield for the school district.

However, they are willing to lease the space if it can be turned into a greenspace for passive recreation or similar parklike setting.

Under the terms of the purchase option, Communities First must pay the school district $70,000 to pay for the construction of a new ballfield on school property.