Hayden project to resume

Published 10:37 am Friday, August 11, 2017

The project of renovating the historic Hayden High School into the Hayden Village Center has gotten new life. This confirmation comes through John N. Skirven, chief executive officer of Senior Services of Southeastern Virginia.

“We were able to form a partnership with a developer who has experience in renovating historic buildings,” Skirven said on Thursday.

The plan of converting the former school into a senior residential and community center goes back as early as 2012 when the Franklin Planning Commission gave its recommendation. The project gained momentum to the point of a construction crew was hired to begin clearing out debris of the school basement in spring of 2015. An open house was also organized to show city officials and other interested people what could be possible. The intention was to be open in fall 2016.

But work halted in May 2015. Skirven told The Tidewater News a year later that was due in part to the sudden death of William Wade, who he described as a key member in the project. Another reason was that financing was withdrawn by the end of September that same year. He also said then that efforts to seek monetary backing were ongoing.

“Following stoppage of construction, we were able after a lengthy search to find funding,” Skirven added on Thursday. “We’re excited to get this underway.”

According to information provided by SSSEVA’s Marketing and Communications Specialist Nealy Gihan, “Financing for the project has been obtained from Virginia Community Capital Bank and the Local Initiatives Support Corporation,” adding that the project was reviewed to reduce the commercial space and increase the number of senior apartments to 27; originally, there were going to be 17 one-bedroom or efficiency apartments.

“SSSEVA has formed Hayden Village Associates LLC with Luna Development, based in Norfolk. Luna Development is an experienced developer of historic buildings and is minority owned,” Gihan continued. “The Hayden Village Center construction, which will be done by Ashett Construction, is expected to be completed by July 2018. A formal ground breaking ceremony is planned for October.”

Not incidentally, the building, which is on both the Virginia Landmarks Register and National Register of Historic Places, was named after Della I. Hayden. She was the daughter of a freed slave, who went on to higher education at then Hampton Institute (now Hampton University), and later came back to teach in Southampton County for many years.

Hayden became the first female principal at the State Normal School in Petersburg (now Virginia State University). In Franklin, she started a boarding school for black girls in 1904 and was there until she died in 1924.

Gihan wrote that Senior Services will be the master tenant and that the Hayden Village Center will house the SSSEVA administrative offices, including long-term services and supports, benefits counseling and nutritional education, its wellness center for seniors, and the rural I-Ride Transit dispatch center.

Further, the Hayden Village Center will offer a web-based No Wrong Door access center for aging and disability services and flexible space for community health and counseling services.

Plans will be developed for collaboration with other organizations to offer enrichment programs for youth and heritage learning programs to honor Hayden.

The large multipurpose room will be available in the late afternoons and weekends for youth basketball and other activities. A commercial grade limited warming kitchen will be available to support the food service needs of SSSEVA’s daily luncheon program as well as community and business meetings.

“The project, when completed, will have an estimated cost of $6,000,000,” Gihan continued. “Seventy jobs will be created during construction. Approximately 30 jobs will be saved or created as a result of the renovation and permanent operations.”

For more information, call 222-4519.