WELCH, W.Va.— Reconnecting McDowell leaders announced that construction of the Renaissance Village apartment building, which includes commercial space, will begin in spring 2019.
The Reconnecting McDowell board approved a redesigned plan, which was announced at a Monday evening town hall meeting. To make it affordable, the slightly scaled-back plan for the Welch building, which will cost an estimated $7 million, will have two floors of apartments and two floors of retail/commercial space.
The apartment building is intended to make modern housing more accessible so that McDowell County teachers have the opportunity to live in the county and be near their schools and students’ families. McDowell County School Superintendent Nelson Spencer said there currently are 22 vacant teaching positions, and 50 teachers are teaching out of their field.
The original plan was for four or five floors of apartments, which proved too expensive to finance. The redesigned plan makes it possible to obtain the financing needed to break ground in the spring.
“We made promises to help revitalize a community that wanted our help. Promises made; promises kept,” said Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, which convened the Reconnecting McDowell public-private partnership.
Renaissance Village will be the first new multistory construction in Welch in more than 50 years, said Mayor Reba Honaker.
In other news, on the upcoming retirement of Superintendent Spencer, Weingarten extolled his qualities and his efforts on behalf of students, and as a key partner with Reconnecting McDowell.
“You are a combination of hope, passion and compassion that is rarely seen in a superintendent today,” Weingarten said.
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