Tonya Haddock drove more than 300 miles from Raleigh, North Carolina to Greenwood County to check out the unkempt yet historic Promised Land School on Monday.
Haddock is managing member of Cadence Development LLC and she is exploring what to do with the school. Her approach is called historic adaptive reuse. She buys old buildings and restores them to their original condition, but for a new use such as housing. She caught wind of the Promised Land School while working on another project in Abbeville, and someone who read the Index-Journal’s articles on the school told her about the property’s declining condition.
“I thought I may be able to help, so we just kind of went from there,” she said.
Haddock plans on replicating what she did for the J.V. Martin Junior High School in Dillion for the Promised Land School. Using a Section 2020 Grant from the Department of Housing and Urban Development, she rehabilitated the high school’s gymnasium and theater for community use, and turned the remainder of the building into 33 one-bedroom apartments that house senior citizens who are 62 or older.
Once Haddock and Cadence Development purchased the school, they leased it back to the Dillion Historic School Foundation for community uses. The apartments are not assisted living and instead are for people who want to do things that bring them back to the community. Up to $51 million is available through the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Section 202 Grants.
Claude Wright, Greenwood County School District 50 board member and Promised Land Community Association member, said Haddock gave him and the association ideas of what they could do with the school for the community.
“It was very interesting,” he said.
Wright said Haddock would be coming back to Promised Land to discuss her plan with the community.
“They want the whole community to be on board,” he said.
Before the meeting, Haddock said she did want the restoration to be a “truly collaborative effort.”