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Apartment Complex Means a Lot of Revenue for School : Innovation: Anaheim district's idea of allowing seniors' housing on site near new campus will bring in about $271,000 a year.


ANAHEIM — The way Supt. Patricia White sees it, the Centralia School District may be the first in the nation to allow an apartment complex to be built on a school lot, but it probably won't be the last.

Ground was broken Wednesday on a 135-unit apartment building for low-income senior citizens on a district-owned lot next to Centralia Elementary School, a new campus set to open in August.

Located near the intersection of Lincoln Boulevard and Western Avenue, the apartment complex will contribute more than $271,000 a year to the school, paying the salaries and benefits of the principal, librarian, janitor and secretary, all of whom will be hired for those jobs.

The teachers all will be transferred from the other eight other schools in the overcrowded district, where many are working in temporary classrooms.

"We have had a lot of interest from other school districts and even city governments," White said. "They see it as an innovative way to fund a new building and they want to know how they might replicate it."

The district built the $5.1-million school using money it received from the sale of a vacant lot in La Palma which officials considered inadequate for a school.

The apartment complex will take up three acres of the 13-acre lot and will be separated from the new school by a wall.

Even though the district had the money to build the new school, officials questioned whether they would have enough money to pay for its daily operation without also building the apartment complex.

The apartment is being built by ARV Affordable Housing of Costa Mesa, which received almost $8 million in state grants for the project.

Under a 40-year agreement with ARV, the school district will receive $131,000 a year plus 5% of the complex's gross revenue.

Since the $14.6-million property will still be owned by the school district, it will be exempt from property taxes. ARV will calculate how much it would have paid in property taxes and give half of that amount to the district, in addition to the other payments.

Officials estimate that the district will receive $271,000 from the complex during its first year and $283,000 during its second. Revenue is expected to continue to increase as rents are raised in subsequent years. Monthly rents will initially range from $128 to $670, based on a family's income and size.

"We have been able to combine public and private resources to build something wonderful like this," ARV President Jay Kuhne said. "We've been able to take school land that was not being utilized, develop housing for low-income seniors and benefit the schools."

White said that because senior citizens will live in the complex, the school will receive more than just money from the property; it will also be a source of volunteers. Plans are already set for an "adopt-a-grandparent" program.

"The school will nurture the children's minds, bodies and spirits, and (the apartment complex) will give them contact with some wonderful seniors who enrich their lives as well," White said.

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