Plans are approved to convert a small, midcentury school building on Ulman Avenue into luxury homes.
- by Lisa Monti
The City Council gave its final approval on January 3. “Everyone is eager for the school to be brought back into commerce,” MacPhaille said.
MacPhaille said he has heard from nearby residents as well as former students who attended classes in the building about how pleased they are to see it repurposed but still fit in with the neighborhood. The final product will keep its familiar mid-century modern look, with clean lines and earthy tones, and will add a matching second floor with balconies on top of the original building.
“We’re keeping the character and modern style of the building and adding a second floor,” said MacPhaille, who is working with John Anderson of unabridged Architecture on the development. Architectural renderings show the name Ulman Lofts on the front of the building, but MacPhaille said they’re still working on what the condo development will be called.
MacPhaille said the building was gutted after Katrina and left vacant ever since, but it has held its own thanks to sturdy brick and metal construction, solid wood beams and concrete floors.
“It’s actually in great shape,” he said of the structure’s overall condition. “The old beams are as solid as a rock, and the heart pine lumber beams we want to keep. We will salvage what we can, reuse the heart pine lumber, and jack up the roof.”
Each condo unit will have high ceilings, hardwood floors and high-end bathroom and kitchen amenities as well as patios and balconies. The development will have 32 off-street parking spaces, parking for golf carts, fencing, lush landscaping, and a pool.
The house to the right of the school will also be renovated as part of the development. “It was formerly the home of two local musicians, Gary and Rochelle Boswell, but most people remember the house as a Dairy Queen when all of Ulman Avenue was commercial and served as the gateway to the old bridge across the Bay,” MacPhaille said. “The location is fantastic. It’s close to downtown and the beaches, and only a short walk to all the action.”
With the city’s approvals in hand, the next step is to prepare the construction documents and then put the project out for bid. Of condo prices and a construction timetable MacPhaille said, “We will come up with the final sales numbers once we settle on a contractor and get our construction bids back.” As expected, the goal is to start building as soon as possible after a contractor is selected.
MacPhaille also owns the Second Street Elementary School building, which he purchased ten years ago, along with the Ulman Avenue Elementary School. The 56,000 square-foot Second Street Elementary School building sits on approximately four acres across the street from the planned condos on Ulman. MacPhaille’s original plan to turn the Second Street Elementary School into a hotel was met with concern from some neighbors “who wanted to see home ownership as opposed to a hotel,” MacPhaille said. He has since decided against the hotel plans and says he will likely seek to convert the building to condominiums as well, once the J.R. Ingram project is underway.
“There is a larger demand for condos in Bay St. Louis today because people are looking to downsize and simplify,” he said.
Enjoy this feature?