Jefferson School gets new owners

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Jefferson School gets new owners

The city has announced the Jefferson School General Partnership, a private entity that will purchase the Jefferson School, keeping it eligible for $8 million in federal tax credits to restore the historic site.

Among the partners are Charlottesville Redevelopment and Housing Authority Commissioner Steve Blaine, architectural historian and preservation planner Gennie Keller as well as several prominent African-American community members, including Col. Martin Burks and Raymond Carey, who attended Jefferson Elementary School. Two city councillors made the cut: Kendra Hamilton and Julian Taliaferro. Bios of all 12 partners are available on the city’s website,    www.charlottesville.org.

The Jefferson School delays no longer belong to the city. They’ve passed the buck to a "general partnership." a board where you’ll find both developers’ attorney Steven Blaine and outgoing City Councilor Kendra Hamilton.

The partnership was selected by tax credit consultant Dan Gecker; federal requirements say the city had to stay out of the process.

The General Partnership will act “very much like the board of a corporation,” says Assistant City Manager Rochelle Small-Toney. They will handle redevelopment of the building and fundraising to make up a potential cost gap. The city has already devoted $5 million in capital improvements funds to the project, anticipated to cost $30.5 million or more.

Citizens voiced concern at a November 2006 City Council meeting that the ball wasn’t rolling fast enough on the Jefferson School. Now that the partners have been selected, Small-Toney says, they’ll likely meet in the next couple of weeks to get organized and tour the building.

The Jefferson School, on Fourth Street in the Starr Hill neighborhood, served as a black school from 1894 until it integrated in 1964. It has lain dormant since 2003 and was named a national historic site in 2005.

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