Opened in 1912, the George W. Adair Elementary School served the Adair Park neighborhood for 60 years before closing in the 1970s. Used intermittently for the next 30 years, it was left empty in the 2000s becoming a source of blight in the neighborhood. The building had extensive water damage throughout. After an arduous acquisition process, the development team replaced the roof and created a floor plan to keep the physical layout unchanged while stabilizing the structure. Most of the original windows had been lost and new custom windows were fabricated. In addition to 10 units of affordable housing for artists, Academy Lofts features five market-rate apartment units, 20 additional affordable housing units, a coffee shop/restaurant and event venue, and nonprofit office space. Partnerships with community nonprofits also provide supportive housing, health care, and counseling services for residents formerly experiencing homelessness. A creative combination of tax credits and grants were used to make the project a reality and the building is now poised to resume its role as a thriving center of community activity.
The Marguerite Williams Award is presented annually to the project that has had the greatest impact on preservation in the state.