Renovation of St. Lawrence school clears hurdle

Published 12:00 am Thursday, December 30, 2004

To restore the St. Lawrence O’Toole School and convert it into an assisted-living facility, Sharon Hartwig and the other developers realize they will need a little assistance of their own.

They received that assistance this week in the form of approval for a $98,000 grant from tobacco settlement monies administered through the Southern Ohio Agricultural and Community Development Foundation. To be eligible for funding, businesses must focus on job creation or job retention.

Management and Marketing Solutions LLC, an Ohio-based development corporation, plans to purchase the building at Seventh and Center streets and convert it into a 32-unit facility that would create a minimum of 17 full-time jobs.

Email newsletter signup

"We are still moving forward with the other funding but this is one step and one hurdle in getting us where we need to be," said Hartwig, a Kitts Hill native, who is partnering with Kunkel & Associates of Wilmington. "We can only thank the community. We have had wonderful, wonderful support."

In part, it was the community that helped make Ironton an ideal place for the project that will restore the historic school that educated grades 1 through 8 from 1910 until the early 1980s, Hartwig said.

"We have some of the most wonderful people in the world in Ironton," she said. "I work in many, many places but I have to say my hometown is the best."

The community's rich history and elegant structures also make for a great setting for this project that will ultimately be a partnership between the church, the community and the state, she said.

"Ironton has some graceful, beautiful buildings," she said. "We have some wonderful architecture and we need to preserve it."

The $2.3 million project still hinges on the developers acquiring $200,000 to $300,000 in Community Development Block Grant monies that they are seeking through the Ironton- Lawrence County Community Action Organization.

For Father Thomas Nau and the Catholic Community, the job creation, need within the community for such a facility and plans to restore the building all make the project appealing.

An assisted-living facility such as this would be a "good neighbor," Nau said earlier this month.

If all goes well, construction could begin in the spring.