Residential builders Sam Mickal Solomon and Billy Burk recently closed on a deal to purchase the former Lakeview School site at 5951 Milne Blvd. for $1.3 million, according to Orleans Parish sales records. The seller is listed as Scurlock Development Group LLC, which bought the property in 2013 for $1.176 million.
The 35,700-square-foot school building was built in 1915 and has been vacant for more than 25 years, falling into disrepair. Previous owners planned to convert it to condominiums, but work never materialized.
Solomon said his development firm, Bancroft Property Investments, has secured a permit from the city to demolish the building to clear the way for 12 new single family homes to be built on the nearly 2-acre site. The new two-story homes would range in size from 2,500 to 2,900 square feet and would be built on 45-foot-by-130-foot lots.
“This is a good opportunity to provide much needed inventory in a less developed corner of Lakeview,” Solomon said. “Property values are continuing to rise and there is very little land left for development.”
The Craftsman-style school building was constructed in 1915 and was built by architect E.A. Christy, who designed many of the city’s campuses. The site was donated to the city in 1929 by the Lupo family with the stipulation that it continue to be used for public education.
The school closed in the late 1980s and the Orleans Parish School Board abandoned the building after Hurricane Katrina. Hedwig Inc., managed by the Lupo family, took back the deed in 2006 and later sold it to Scurlock Development.
Solomon said the building has been neglected and blighted for decades and has suffered severe water damage that has caused major portions of the building to deteriorate. He said single-family residences were the better option because the land is already zoned for that use.
The project will require a re-subdivision of the 73,500 square-foot site.
Solomon has his demolition permit and said he is currently going over bids from contractors for the work, which could begin as early as May. The project calls for construction of three houses at a time, which will be built on speculation as opposed to custom home builds. Property values for lots range from $175,000 to $180,000, he added.
- By Managing Editor, Robin Shannon