An illustration of the proposed development shows the revamped Murrayville Elementary on the left, with new townhouses on the right.

UPDATED: Murrayville Elementary could become housing

Plans would preserve the historic schoolhouse structure with six apartments inside.

Historic Murrayville Elementary would become a six-unit condo building under a new plan put before Langley Township council Monday night.

Developer Lanstone Homes is proposing a redevelopment of the 4.9 acre school site on 48th Avenue.

It would see the preserved, historic portion of the school turned into housing, and 48 townhouses – in two- and four-unit clusters – built on the remainder of the property.

The oak trees planted near the school would also be preserved, as they are protected heritage property within the Murrayville Heritage Conservation Area.

The plan for the elementary school building itself is to move it slightly, to the northeast corner of the site, said Lanstone president Lanson Foster.

The move will put the old schoolhouse closer to the two nearby heritage homes on the park.

“It forms almost a bit of a heritage corner,” said Foster.

The designs show the schoolhouse painted a brick red, which is based on colours in use in Murrayville at the time the school was first constructed, Foster said.

The building would include two two-bedroom units on the lower floor and four two-storey units on the main and upper levels with three bedrooms each.

Two additional dormers would be built on the north and south sides of the roof for additional natural light.

Some older features of the schoolhouse are to be restored, including tall-banked wood windows replacing aluminum-framed windows, and new front porch balustrades.

Township council voted in favour of the first readings of the rezoning bylaws, with an amendment to ensure a parking lot for the project will not be in the southeastern corner of adjacent Denny Ross Park.

A public hearing is expected in late June when residents can comment on the project.

Murrayville Elementary closed its doors in 2008, after 97 years of continuous operation. The school’s population merged with that of nearby James Hill Elementary.

Built in 1911 and expanded from two to four rooms in 1913, Murrayville was originally known as Belmont Superior School, and taught students from elementary and high school grades. It was renamed Murrayville Elementary when the older students moved to a new high school location in 1922.

By 2008, Langley School District was in the midst of an enrolment crisis, as student numbers had dropped from more than 20,000 in 1999 to 18,500.

Although Murrayville Elementary was not that far below its capacity, it was one of the smallest schools in the district, with just 222 students the year it closed.

The closure was part of a wider reconfiguration that transformed H.D. Stafford from a secondary to a middle school.

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