By Julie Huss
---- — DERRY — A former school building on Highland Avenue is being eyed for an apartment complex, but some residents say the plan would cast a shadow over the small neighborhood.
The former Charles M. Floyd Elementary School may become a 20-unit complex of studio, one- and two-bedroom apartments.
Property owners Extended Realty LLC gave details of the plan at a Planning Board meeting March 6.
Eric Spofford is half owner of Extended Realty LLC and also owns the Granite House sober living facility on West Broadway in Derry. Although some neighbors believed Spofford may want to extend his sober living program into the Floyd school plan, Spofford denied having any interest in doing that.
"This is not part of that," Spofford said. "This is a separate entity, a separate project with no ties to the Granite House."
The eight-classroom Floyd school was built in 1917 and named for the Granite State's 59th governor. The school has been closed since 2005. The school district sold the building in 2010 for $275,000.
Several plans to convert the school into apartments came before officials through the years, including a previously approved 18-unit plan. Those proposals never came to fruition.
TF Moran architect Nicole Duquette said the latest plan includes expanding pavement areas for parking and other work to make sure the building is up to date for safety. There are 47 parking spaces proposed for the plan.
The school's main entrance on Highland Avenue would not be used by tenants, Duquette said. Side doors of the building would be the main access areas to the apartments.
Neighbors said as much as they would like to see the old school used for something new, an apartment plan with this many units is too extreme for this part of town. They claim it would negatively affect property values and add too much traffic.
Mike Buckley of 22 Highland Ave. said an apartment complex of this size would not suit the neighborhood.
"We want Floyd school to be cleaned up," he said, "but this would drastically change the character of the area."
Elizabeth McGowan of 40 Highland Ave. said she and other neighbors are very invested in the community and its landscape. She worries about what apartments would do to the area.
"The noise, the light, it's going to be intrusive," she said. "I just don't want it to be a transient neighborhood."
Planning officials will do a site walk of the Floyd school property on March 23 at 10 a.m. Residents are invited to attend the walk. More discussion will follow at a Planning Board meeting April 3.