Plan calls for familiar use at former school

NAUGATUCK — A nonprofit organization is bringing the former back to its roots.

The Institute of Professional Practice, Inc., plans to open a school for students with developmental needs in part of the former elementary school at 100 Prospect St.

Attorney Kevin McSherry, who represents the building’s owner and developer Mat Florian, said the school would serve students from pre-K through high school.

“The school is a special needs school which serves children on a one-to-one basis that gives them individualized training and eventually helps them get into the work force,” McSherry said.

According to its website, The Institute of Professional Practice is a nonprofit human service and educational organization that provides services in Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Maryland.

In addition to schools like the one proposed in Naugatuck, the institute provides specialized autism services, residential options, community-based day options and vocational supports, and job coaching for adults, its website states.

McSherry said the school will take up approximately 10,000 square feet of the building and serve about 40 students.

“So it won’t be the 300 to 400 kids that were at Prospect Street School,” McSherry said.

The school will be the third business or organization to open up in the building since the borough sold the former school to Florian in 2016 for $300,000. The Club Health & Fitness opened last July and Physical Therapy & Sports Medicine Centers opened last December.

The entire building is approximately 41,000 square feet. The gym takes up approximately 15,000 square feet, and the physical therapy offices take up about 3,000 square feet.

According to plans submitted to the borough, the school’s 10,000 square feet will be split between two floors. The first floor will include three classrooms, an exercise room and five offices. The second floor will include three classrooms, a therapy room and a conference room.

Florian originally proposed building apartments in part of the former school, but the apartments were a backup plan in case the building couldn’t be redeveloped entirely for commercial use.

Although the gym and the school are taking up large portions of the building, McSherry said he doesn’t expect there to be any conflict with parking since The Club’s members tend to come after work hours.

“Their largest use is at night. The school is going to be in the daytime, so it is not a conflict from a parking standpoint,” McSherry said.

McSherry said a lot of the work on the rooms for the school has already been completed.

“Existing hallways and classrooms are going to be used. The work that had to be done to modernize everything has already been done,” McSherry said.

The Zoning Commission last week approved a special permit modification for the school subject to a site plan submission.

McSherry said the school is expected to open in July.

Liz Sellinger, program director for The Institute of Professional Practice’s Connecticut schools, declined to comment on the school opening in Naugatuck.