CHESTERFIELD COUNTY, Va. (WRIC) — The old Matoaca elementary School, built in 1937, has lain empty since Spring 2021, when the last students walked out of its doors. Now, Chesterfield County is proposing a new use for the site that would see extensive renovation of the school building and grounds.
The concept, presented to community members at a meeting on Wednesday, Oct. 5, includes senior and affordable housing, as well as community space and park facilities.
The new Matoaca Elementary was completed in 2020, but the building saw another year of use as a temporary home for students at Ettrick Elementary School as construction finished on their new building.
The historic school was opened in 1937, but has been expanded significantly since then, and now totals about 52,000 square feet on an 11 acre site. The county also recently acquired a residential property next to the school — shown in yellow below — which will be redeveloped alongside the school.
“There’s still a lot of people who went to that school as a kid who live in this community, and it means something to them,” Matoaca Supervisor Kevin Carroll said at the Wednesday meeting. “So we want to get input from the community.”
The current proposal being presented by the county would see the historic portions of the school building preserved, while demolishing one portion of the newer additions and adding extensively to the currently empty portions of the grounds.
“We’re focused on preserving the fabric of the school, just using it in a different way,” Stuart Connock, assistant director of Chesterfield Parks and Recreation, said.
“A major upside of reusing the building as housing is that it would enable the possibility of securing a substantial portion of project funding from outside of Chesterfield County, through the pairing of state and federal historic tax credits with housing tax credits,” Nick Feucht of Chesterfield’s Community Enhancement Department said. “We want to retain the school building in a purposeful way.”
That new housing could include up to 36 apartments potentially reserved for older residents in the existing school building, alongside a community space housed in the old auditorium. The surrounding space, meanwhile, could fit up to 10 single-family homes on quarter-acre lots, along with park space.
“Our fastest-growing demographic is 55-and-over,” Carroll said. “The whole purpose of doing this would be to provide something in this part of the county that does not exist. Even though it wouldn’t be a huge project, every little bit counts.”
Feucht added that they would set aside at least some of the lots for affordable housing to be built by non-profit organizations, such as the Maggie Walker Land Trust or Habitat for Humanity.