Bret Tarver Terrace: Former school building to be torn down, replaced with affordable apartments

A school building in West Phoenix will soon be torn down, and a new apartment complex will take its place.

The building, located near 31st Avenue and McDowell, used to house Bret Tarver Isaac Preschool. The school was named after a Phoenix firefighter who, according to the Phoenix Fire Foundation, died in 2001 while fighting a fire at a supermarket in the area of 35th Avenue and Indian School Road.

The school has moved to a different location, and in a first-of-its-kind sale in the Phoenix area, officials with Isaac School District sold the surplus land to the City of Phoenix.

Current plans call for a corner lot in the area to be turned into a 96-unit affordable apartment complex called Bret Tarver Terrace. The corner lot was purchased for several million dollars.

"Taxpayers will not be responsible for buying that land," said Christa Severns with Phoenix IDA.

Phoenix IDA, which is a non-profit, is contributing more than $18 million in multi-housing revenue bonds for the development. In addition, grants from Maricopa County, the State of Arizona, and other government are all being used to build the complex.

"We call it ‘stackable financing,’" said Severns. "It takes a lot of different partners to get something like this off the ground."

The units will be available to families with income at or below 60% of Phoenix’s median income. The monthly rental rate will be set by the Arizona Department of Housing, so under current guidelines, a family of four that makes $56,000 or less a year would pay just over $1,200 a month for a two-bedroom apartment.

According to, the median price of rent in phoenix is about $1,600 a month. Nationwide, it’s about $1,700 a month.

U-Mom, which already operates several other affordable housing communities, will also run the apartments once it's built.

There are strict guidelines for school districts when it comes to selling surplus land, and non-profits hope more districts will consider this unique type of sale.

"They can sell it to, say, a city or municipality for a public purpose, and in this case, the public purpose is to build affordable housing," said Severns.

The complex is scheduled to be completed and move-in ready in 2025.

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Old site of Bret Tarver Isaac Preschool