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Construction underway to reopen former Fred G. Steelman School in Eatontown, NJ as new home for Voya


EATONTOWN, NJ — The 108-year-old former Fred G. Steelman School here has been vacant since 1976, but that is about to change. Work is underway to bring the historic building back to life as the new home for Voyagers’ Community School, a private day school, which is relocating from Farmingdale, NJ. The $1.2 million first phase of the project is set for completion by the school’s opening date of September 9.

As part of the project’s second phase, 2,000 s/f will be added to increase the building to a total of 20,000 s/f. In the interim, 5,000 s/f within the building’s annex will be set aside for offices for a variety of independent, child-focused professional services. The annex, which will have a separate entrance, is also zoned to accommodate a variety of other youth-oriented uses such as a self defense school, children’s gym, dance studio, tutoring center, or technology instruction facility. The annex’s space can be divisible to units as small as 500 s/f. Leasing is being handled by Keller Williams Realty of Jackson, NJ.

“Interior demolition is well underway at the site,” said Corbett Donato of AC Donato Construction, LLC, an affiliate of The Donato Group of Eatontown. His company is handling the $1.2 million construction and renovation’s first phase in conjunction with West Long Branch-based W. Lerman Architecture. “The demolition will be followed by partitioning and installation of the building’s infrastructure. We are very confident that the school will open as scheduled. We’ve never missed a deadline.”

When it re-opens, the two-story brick building located at 215 Broad St. in Eatontown “will have the same, charming appearance,” said Wayne Lerman, principal of W. Lerman Architecture. “We will try to leave existing interior brick walls and window openings—antiquity will remain in place as much as possible, but with a modern infrastructure with an emphasis on ‘green.’”

Environmentally-friendly features will range from the state-of-the-art LED lighting specified by Lerman’s firm, to the Natural Pod organic furniture selected by Voyagers’ Community School’s Karen Giuffrè.

Construction challenges include removal of asbestos, although some of it had been removed by a previous owner. Mechanical and equipment requirements include installation of sprinkler and life safety systems and gas-fired heat. “The original slate roof also needs to be repaired,” said Lerman.

Originally constructed in 1907, the Steelman School building underwent expansions in 1938 and 1948, before closing in 1976. The first phase of the current project to prepare the school for occupancy will be followed by a second phase that includes the 2,000 s/f addition. Expected to begin in the summer of 2016 and be completed in time for the 2016-2017 school year, the second phase, as currently designed, will feature a new, glass-enclosed, multi-story entrance and lobby by the rear parking area, Lerman noted. The addition will incorporate an elevator as well as new rental space.

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