The former Gladstone Middle School building in Hazelwood has sat vacant for 15 years.
Now it soon could have a new owner and new life.
The Hazelwood Initiative, a neighborhood development group, has signed papers to purchase the building from Pittsburgh Public Schools for $250,000.
The school board in November awarded the Initiative the option to buy the building, and since then the two sides have been finalizing the language of the agreement.
According to Pittsburgh Public Schools spokesperson Ebony Pugh, the sales agreement is now being circulated among district officials, including the solicitor, to sign it. That process could be completed.
“From that point, the clock ticks on us,” said Sonya Tilghman, executive director of the Hazelwood Initiative. “We have 120 days to finish raising the money and then another 30 days or so to close.”
According to Tilghman, not all of the 150,000-square-foot space will be developed into apartments.
"Because our housing issues in Hazelwood are greater than anything that can be solved by one building," Tilgham said.
The Initiative is considering space for workforce development, business incubators and the Center for Life, a social service agency in Hazelwood.
“There’s nothing firmly identified yet except for housing," Tilghman said. "We kind of heard pretty clearly about that. The rest of the programming is under development, in part because the size of the building mandates it’s a multi-phase project.”
Tilghman said the plan is to keep the exterior of the school building.
“We have to get inside and see what we can save or not," Tilgham said. "We think we can rehab it. We think there will be selective demolition, but mostly internal to clean out the walls so we can do appropriate size rental units.”
According to the district, maintenance and debt service for Gladstone cost $137,000 annually.
But she said, even after the deal is closed, it will likely be summer 2017 before the construction could begin.
“Part of our issue is making sure people understand these timelines so if they don’t physically see anything happening at the site, that they know it’s still being worked on," Tilghman said.