Spartanburg developer proposes to turn former Mary H. Wright School into apartments

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SPARTANBURG COUNTY, S.C. (WSPA) – A new apartment development in Spartanburg at the former Mary H. Wright School could be in jeopardy if the local historic society has its way. 

The proposed development would turn the empty Mary H. Wright School into mixed price apartments.

The Montgomery Development Group wants to breathe new life into the property on Caulder Avenue in Spartanburg.

“I have spent the last two years working with the city, working with the state historic preservation office, and working with the national park service,” Montgomery Development Group CEO John Montgomery said.

That collaboration helped developer John Montgomery come up with a plan to preserve the historic nature of the building while adding affordable living space.

Now, the local historic society wants a seat at the table to also provide oversight on the project.

There’s concern from the developer that after satisfying requirements up to this point, that bringing in another group after plans have been approved could slow things down or stop the project all together 

While playing cards can be a game of chance, James Young doesn’t want his community to be dealt a bad hand.

“There’s no life in that section. They have really let this community down,” resident James Young said.

“No one has taken an action to preserve this building until I put it under contract to preserve and restore it, so I do feel like I’ve been targeted” Montgomery said.

The development wants to bring 53 mixed unit apartments that will include work force priced apartments.

For Mr. Young, the new project will help the community overall.

“They gonna have about two or three apartments affordable, and the rest of them $1,500 on up, and those people making that kind of money, they gonna want fast food, they want a bank and a supermarket close to them,” Young said.

Monday night’s meeting was set to address the request from the local historic register.

“It’s something that I oppose because I’m already under the scrutiny of the historic preservation office of the National Park Service. This is just one more level of oversight and scrutiny over my project that I think is unwarranted,” Montgomery said.

Another issue of concern is that adding a few moderately priced apartments in the building won’t keep the high priced units from starting the gentrification process from happening in the surrounding neighborhoods.

The developer is ready to start work within the next 30 days, but if the local historic group is voted in there’s a possibility he could pull out.

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