HEFLIN — A facility once used by Cleburne County residents in their early years is to be transformed to take care of them in their later years.
The old Cleburne County High School in Heflin has been bought by developer Lathan & Coleman LLC to be converted into an assisted living and memory care community, according to a press release issued late Thursday afternoon.
L & C will begin redevelopment immediately on the old school, which opened in 1936 and closed in 1984, the year that the Casey family bought the building to save it from demolition.
The approximately $12 million dollar project will create 42 residence units and will see the construction of a 16-bed facility for residents with failing memory, dementia and similar conditions. When operating, the facility is expected to create about 35 jobs.
Tanya Maloney, the city’s economic developer, and the Casey family have been working for the past few years on getting the property in a position for development. Working with a consultant, the family was successful in getting the school listed on the National Register for Historic Places early this year.
Maloney said that once the project is finished, the facility will have the same look as the old school and said it was “awesome” to save the historic building.
Maloney said the project qualified as a “opportunity zone” — for which tax incentives are designed to draw investment into areas with poverty and sluggish job and business growth. Maloney said that the project was also eligible for historic tax credits.
Quoted in the press release, Heflin Mayor Rudy Rooks said, “This project is a huge win for our community. Thirty percent of Cleburne County is over the age of 55. Communities, particularly rural communities like ours, need to be thinking about its aging population and how we can help address their needs.”
“Added bonus — who would not want to go back to high school?” Rooks said.