Seniors’ housing planned for former St. Peter’s school lands

Conceptual drawing. Image courtesy City of Sarnia

Troy Shantz

For their next big project a pair of local developers are going back to school.

Sarnia-based Nelmar Developments is planning to convert the former St. Peter’s elementary school into a 104-unit seniors’ housing complex.

“I believe it’s an ideal location,” said co-owner Rob Iacobelli. “The structure itself is sound… it’s just a matter of redoing it and laying it out.”

St. Peter’s sits on 2.5 acres at 696 Oxford St., at the intersection of Maxwell. The school was one of four Catholic schools consolidated into Holy Trinity and St. Matthew’s in September of 2010.

Iacobelli, who runs Nelmar with brother Rino Iacobelli, said the quiet neighbourhood is ideal for residents to explore and it’s close to the Strangway Centre, Northgate Plaza and Germain Park.

The school building is solid so much of it is being repurposed, Rob Iacobelli said.

Units will range from 700-to-1,300 square feet, with larger multi-bedroom units in the main school building.

An adjacent four-storey addition at the east end will contain 75 units.

What is now the gymnasium, with 20-foot ceilings, will become a common space with multiple seating areas and a large fireplace, Iacobelli noted.

They plan to maintain the original 12-foot-wide hallways, allowing walkers and scooters to easily flow throughout the building, with parking directly outside the units.

The brothers first entered commercial market in 2012 when they bought and repurposed the former St. Margaret’s elementary school in the south end.

They considered turning the 3.73-acre property into residential lots, but after receiving pushback from neighbours opted for a 150-unit self-storage facility.

The St. Peter’s neighbourhood was consulted about the new seniors’ housing project and the response has been positive, Iacobelli said.

“Seems that’s the way Sarnia is going,” he said. “The market is there.”

London-based Zelinka Priamo Ltd. has been hired to handle planning and permits and another firm will be hired to manage the completed facility.

Because the project requires zoning and Official Plan amendments, a public meeting has been scheduled for March 14 at 4 p.m. at City Hall.

If there are no objections, construction could begin this spring.