Stamford is entering discussions with the Sisters of St. Joseph of Chambery for the potential purchase of a 10.8-acre parcel at 200 Strawberry Hill Ave. downtown.
The property is the former site of Sacred Heart Academy, which closed in 2006. It is home now to the Stamford campus for The Stanwich School. The campus includes several buildings and in 2012 was assessed for $14.7 million.
Mayor David Martin said in a statement the property represents “a historic and strategic opportunity for the city to pursue.”
The campus also includes the C.J. Starr Barn and Carriage House, which was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1979. In the application submitted by the Sisters of St. Joseph of Chambery to the National Park Service, they stated the structure is “the sole remaining structure of its kind in the city” and that it “provides the residents of Stamford with a link to a previous era.”
“Opportunities like this come around once in a generation,” Martin said. “The property is a chance to preserve part of Stamford’s history and character. It will protect open space in an area that has become highly developed over the years. This is truly a unique and strategic opportunity.”
The Board of Education informed Martin of the potential opportunity shortly following his election to mayor. Martin took office Dec. 1. Martin and the board worked throughout the transition and Martin’s first two weeks as mayor to explore the opportunity.
Martin recently briefed members of the Board of Finance, the Board of Representatives Fiscal Committee, the District 11 members of the Board of Representatives and the chairperson of the Stamford Planning Board on the status of the property.
Martin said the city intends to use the property for a school, but “renovation and expansion would be necessary in order to effectively utilize the space and would require additional capital investment.” Further study and evaluation are on the docket.
“I am committed to ensuring that all children have access to a quality public education and bringing a new school to the Strawberry Hill location is an attractive option,” Martin said.
“The bottom line is that this opportunity is presenting itself now and with urgency,” Martin said in an email statement. “If we are successful, I am certain the property will be an enormous asset and make a positive contribution to our city. Whether the property is utilized for a new school or one of several alternative public uses, it will be a historic purchase. This is a low-risk investment for the city to make and we will be aggressively negotiating to secure the best deal possible.”