Renovations begin at aging Lynchburg High Apartments

News & Advance LogoAlicia Petska | Posted: Monday, January 10, 2011 ♦

Lynchburg High Apartments, a subsidized housing development that rests on the highest point in the city, is getting its first major renovation in three decades.

The building, a circa-1911 structure on Park Avenue that was originally a high school, started undergoing an intensive $8.9 million overhaul last week.

Lynchburg High Apartments

The first phase of renovations is beginning at Lynchburg High Apartments, a 70-unit complex for low-income, elderly and disabled residents on Park Avenue. The century-old building has not undergone improvements since it was converted from a high school 30 in 1979.

The project, funded by a combination of tax credits, stimulus money and a Virginia Housing Development Authority loan, is scheduled for completion by the end of the year. Improvements will include new fixtures and appliances, central heating and air, and conversion of some apartments to meet modern Americans with Disabilities Act standards.

“A lot of this has been geared toward making our residents more comfortable and keeping their energy costs down,” said Connie Snavely, associate director of the nonprofit Lynchburg Covenant Fellowship, which owns and manages the building.

“Just being able to provide energy-­efficient appliances and heating and cooling is major,” she said. “It’s going to be very beneficial for our residents and for us in the long run.”

E. C. Jarvis

E.C. Jarvis, of Franzie Electric, takes out old wiring in Lynchburg High Apartments, which are in the first phase of renovation. The building on Park Avenue was built in 1911 and was originally a high school. (Photo by Jill Nance)

Lynchburg High, which offers panoramic views of downtown from its top floor, operated as a public high school until the 1970s. It was sold to Lynchburg Covenant Fellowship and later converted into housing in 1979, according to newspaper archives.

Today, the 70-­unit complex serves low-­income families and the elderly and disabled. The renovation now under way is the first significant work that has been done on the building in the last 30 years.

The renovated apartments will have Energy Star appliances and central heating and cooling in place of a system of baseboard heaters and window air­-conditioning units that is currently used. Crews will also overhaul the building’s lone elevator and convert existing four-­bedroom units into smaller two-bedroom units to better meet current tenant needs.

Work on Lynchburg High Apartments

Money for the renovations at Lynchburg High Apartments came from stimulus funds, tax credits and a loan from the Virginia Housing Development Authority. The work is scheduled to be finished by the end of this year. (Photo by Jill Nance)

Lynchburg High will temporarily relocate its residents in phases throughout the renovation. Late last year, officials moved out 32 people in just 11 days to prepare for the first stage of construction. The moving company Two Guys and a Truck provided its services at a discounted rate.

Most tenants were moved into other Lynchburg Covenant Fellowship properties, although some who have special needs were temporarily placed with other agencies. Officials hope their apartments at Lynchburg High will be finished and ready for occupancy again by the end of June.

“We’re on a very, very tight time schedule, but everyone is already working away,” Snavely said. “They’ve hit the ground running.”

Residents are excited about the upcoming changes, Snavely added. “People are already telling us they can’t wait to get back to their apartments,” she said. “… This has been long overdue.”