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Old Elm Street School development still in works

A Georgia-based developer still plans to turn the former Elm Street School building into condos. (Erwin Record Staff Photo by Keeli Parkey)

By Richard Rourk

Patience is still the word used for a familiar site in Erwin.

The 12,000-square-foot old Elm Street School building, located at 600 North Elm Ave., in Erwin, was built in 1922. The building had served as a school until 1969. From 1970 until 2011, the site was used to house Unicoi County School System’s offices and served as the Board of Education meeting place.

Lee Naylor, who is a developer with Plansouth Inc. based out of Georgia, has owned the property for close to three years now.

Naylor had previously discussed two options for the site. One option would be to use the site to create nine spacious condos, and the second option was to use the site to create 15 smaller loft apartments.

“We have discussed the two plans at length, and I am leaning towards the nine-unit plan,” Naylor said. “The two-bedroom and two-and-a-half bathroom units might be the way to go.”

According to Naylor, there is no way to put a timeframe on when work will begin with the project. “We are sitting holding tight,” Naylor said. “I wish we could put a date on it, but when you do that you tend to get into trouble. I still own the project and still intend to develop the building.”

Naylor is currently finishing up projects in Georgia.

“We have several projects that were ahead of the Erwin building on our list that we are finishing up,” Naylor said. “I’d like to start on the Erwin project this year or next, but cannot commit to anything right now.”

Naylor previously spoke to The Erwin Record back in December 2018 and had originally planned to start the project in the spring or summer of 2019.

Despite being busy with other projects out of state, Naylor has kept up with the growth in Erwin. “With Food City opening and future industry potentially coming in down the road at the former Morgan Insulation site, we are excited to be a part of the growth in Erwin,” Naylor said.

According to Naylor, the site is ready to be worked on when he and his staff come to town.

“We did put a new roof on the building, so it is sitting in a good spot and well preserved,” he said.

Naylor acknowledged that patience is key when it comes to the development of the site.

“Not much has changed since we last spoke; timing is everything,” Naylor said.

For more information and updates on the Old Elm Street School building, please visit