Local Government

Plan Commission gives green light to developers hoping to transform old schools

Madison School as seen on Monday, Oct. 28, 2019. | H-W Photo/Jake Shane
Jake Shane1|
By Herald-Whig
Posted: Dec. 18, 2019 12:10 am Updated: Dec. 18, 2019 12:33 am

QUINCY -- Details continue to trickle out surrounding developers' plans for the former Madison, Adams and Dewey school properties, the primary focus of the Quincy Plan Commission meeting Tuesday.

The three former elementary schools were sold by Quincy Public Schools at a live auction. Dewey sold last year; Adams and Madison sold this year.

Dewey initially sold for $35,000 to a developer who planned to convert the three-story structure at 2040 Cherry Street into leased spaces for offices, a fitness gym, a catering business, a day care and large assemblies. Those plans, approved by the Quincy Plan Commission last year, were halted when the developer decided to not move forward with the project.

Benjamin Hickman of Hannibal, Mo., and Kyle Terstriep of Liberty, Ill., say they want to convert the school, which opened in 1917 and closed 101 years later, into 13 apartments and four event spaces.

Hickman told The Herald-Whig they hope, if their request for a special permit is approved by the Quincy City Council, to begin remodeling the building in early February. The developers say renovation will be done in phases, with some tenants potentially moving into the building while work is done on other apartments.

Hickman said he and Terstriep are "excited that everyone seems to be on board with our plans."

Dewey sits on a 612 foot by 184 foot tract on the north side of a public alley. The tract is zoned as residential, but a 2013 Neighborhood Land Use Plan categorized the properties as "public" due to the educational uses of the now-closed school.

The Quincy Plan Commission approved Hickman and Terstriep's plans, which now head to the Quincy City Council. The city's elected governing body is expected to vote on a resolution concurring with the Plan Commission at Monday's meeting. If the resolution is approved, the city will draft an ordinance authorizing the issuance of the special permit.

"Whenever a community is faced with former institutional buildings like a former school, finding ways to reuse them is always a concern," said Chuck Bevelheimer, Quincy's director of planning and development. "The city is pleased that with Dewey School a new plan emerged, and it appears to be getting off the ground."

Hickman said as remodeling begins, additional parking may be created on the site of the former playground.

John Rupp and his sons Blake and Bryce are the developers with plans for the former Madison and Adams schools. The Rupps declined to be interviewed, citing the unfinished purchase of the two properties. The Rupps initially hoped to close on the properties on Thursday, but that date has been pushed back to Dec. 30.

The Rupps previously told The Herald-Whig that were forming a new corporation, expected to be called Rupp Properties, to manage the properties. The corporation also would be responsible for converting Adams School to light commercial use and Madison into apartments.

The family owns and operates Rupp Rentals, which has about 75 rental properties, including apartment buildings and commercial spaces in Quincy; and Rupp Masonry, the family's original enterprise. The family said at the time of the purchase they would be selling the Rupp Rentals properties.

The Rupps did tell the Plan Commission they plan to convert the former Madison School, at 2434 Maine, which opened in 1890, into 20 rental units. Plan Commission member Jim Citro said, "These properties are really valued architectural treasures, and I want to thank the developers for finding ways to keep them in functional uses."

Despite not knowing the entire plan, the Quincy Plan Commission approved the Rupps' request to change zoning from single family residential to multi-family residential. This also heads to the Quincy City Council for approval.

At Tuesday's meeting, the Rupps said they plan to convert Adams School, at 2001 Jefferson, built in 1952, into light office space. John Rupp said a crucial part of that plan is building a proposed parking lot, which would also improve the building's accessibility. City officials said they thought the space would be too narrow and might affect how traffic flows into the intersections of South 20th and South 21st streets.

However, the Plan Commission ultimately sided with the Rupps and approved a special permit, allowing for the creation of apartments, light office space and off-street parking.

Bevelheimer said light office space means that the former school could be used for professional offices such as doctors, lawyers, consultants, chiropractors and others.

"The door is open to what it could be," Bevelheimer said.