Cornwall school conversion to apartment building

A conceptual drawing by Fotenn Planning + Design during a Cornwall Planning Advisory Committee meeting on Monday, May 17, 2021 shows what the former St. Gabriel school will look like once it's converted to a 17-unit apartment complex. (Foteen Planning/PAC via Newswatch Group)

CORNWALL – A former French Catholic school on Reneal Street in Cornwall will be converted into an apartment complex.

The city’s Planning Advisory Committee (PAC) held a public meeting Monday night for the rezoning of the property on southeast corner of Reneal Street and Sunnyside Avenue to allow the conversion of St. Gabriel school to a 17-unit “market rate rental” building.

The property has to be rezoned given it will be a higher density of living units compared to the neighbourhood of single family and multi-unit homes.

The plan will see 10 two-bedroom apartments and seven one-bedrooms units, each around 1,000 square feet. Two units will be accessible.

The St. Gabriel French Catholic school on Reneal Street in Cornwall, Ont. on Thursday, May 13, 2021. A developer plans to convert the school into a 17-unit apartment building. (Newswatch Group/Bill Kingston)

Asked by Coun. Syd Gardiner whether the units will be “affordable,” developer Tom Hughes of Weaving Baskets Group says they will not be high end units but will “fit that neighbourhood.”

Weaving Baskets bought the school, which is 65 years old now, along with the 1.38 acre (0.56 hectare) property in 2014.

Hughes indicated that he is open to looking at rent supplement programs.

Two area residents asked questions about the development during the public meeting with one concerned about how the new development would affect assessment and taxes on nearby properties.

The rezoning was approved by PAC but still needs final approval by city council at its June 14 meeting.

There is no timeline for construction though Hughes wants to start “as quickly as possible.” A site plan still needs to be approved by the city.