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Hatfield completes sale of Center School

  • Hatfield’s old Center School has been sold to developers who will begin converting the century-old building into condominium units. GAZETTE FILE PHOTO

  • File photo, former Center School in Hatfield. GAZETTE FILE PHOTO/SARAH CROSBY

  • File photo, former Center School in Hatfield. GAZETTE FILE PHOTO/SARAH CROSBY

  • File photo, former Center School in Hatfield. GAZETTE FILE PHOTO/SARAH CROSBY

  • File photo, former Center School in Hatfield. GAZETTE FILE PHOTO/SARAH CROSBY



For the Gazette
Friday, August 11, 2017

After a decade of leaving the building empty and another year looking for bid proposals, Hatfield has closed the sale on the Center School building.

It will now see new life as a condominium development.

Barry L. Roberts and Donald Southwick bought the building Friday morning for $2,144.50, Town Administrator Marlene Michonski said. They plan to convert the building into eight condominiums for tenants age 55 and older.

“Roberts is pretty well known throughout the area, and he has a very good reputation with redeveloping properties,” Michonski said. “His vision is certainly something we support.”

The contract price of the building was just $100, Michonski said. The remaining money reimburses the town for legal fees on the property related to asbestos removal.

The Center School building hasn’t been used as a school since 1980. The last tenant of the building was the Western Massachusetts Regional Library, but the building has been vacant for more than a decade, Michonski said. The town originally voted to demolish the building.

“There was a movement of thought to destroy the school, but the historical society and a lot of the people in town didn’t really want that to happen,” Roberts said. “I’ve done something like 10 or 12 conversions of schools to housing in my lifetime, and we were willing to take care of a lot of the town’s costs to make it happen.”

Roberts and Southwick submitted their bid proposal nearly a year ago and had originally hoped to close the sale early in the spring, Michonski said. Construction should start sometime this fall.

Kuhn Riddle Architects of Amherst will design the condominium development. Roberts, of Amherst, said there is no budget estimate for the project yet, nor is there a price estimate for the condo units.

“We know they’re anxious to get started,” Michonski said. “The building is a great location, and we hope this revitalizes the area a little bit.”

The building is in the center of Hatfield village, within walking distance of the post office and local businesses. The units will be a mix of one- and two-bedroom condos. Most of the historic facade will not be altered, according to the proposal. Only the east side of the building’s exterior will be changed to add decks to each condo with a view of the Connecticut River.

“We want the property to be an asset again,” Roberts said. “And we hope to bring a little livelihood back to the area, because it’s a great place.”