Vacant Bennington school to become senior apartment complex

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(Host) Remember the empty middle school in Bennington that was going to be auctioned off on eBay? The building now appears likely to become a senior living complex, complete with a recreational facility for the whole town.

VPR’s Susan Keese reports.

(Keese) This is a different sort of Internet success story because the school never actually made it onto eBay. The news that it might be auctioned off that way generated so much attention that it wasn’t necessary.

(Edward Levitt) “Actually my wife saw an article which appeared in the Boston Globe.”

(Keese) Edward Levitt is president of Longwood Senior Living, the Brookline, Massachusetts, firm that bought the 200-year-old school. The company has developed senior housing in several states.

(Levitt) “But in particular, one of the things that attracted us to this particular property was [that] we developed a similar property, almost the same vintage and the same configuration in a town here in Massachusetts six or seven years ago. It’s a school which was converted into senior housing. And in that building, we leased space to a dance school which had been in the community 40 or 50 years and they now occupy the building along with the seniors.”

(Keese) Levitt says the intergenerational mix there has succeeded from everyone’s point of view. So he called up the Bennington superintendent of schools and asked if he would hold off on eBay and issue a request for a new round of proposals. As it turned out, the story had caught the interest from other developers as well. But at $200,000, Levitt’s was the winning bid.

Levitt is currently seeking town approval for a project that includes 74 senior apartments with an option for independent or assisted living. The old school gym will be leased to a community-based group that’s already raising funds for a new Bennington youth center.

For Vermont Public Radio, I’m Susan Keese.

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