Wrightstown Elementary School, seen here in January, is in the process of being torn down. Pepper Viner Homes will build a 56-home housing community called The Schoolyard in its place, with site development expected to begin this fall.

Kelly Presnell / Arizona Daily Star

Developers of a new housing community at the site of a shuttered elementary school plan to pay tribute to the former schoolhouse.

Pepper Viner Homes bought the vacant Wrightstown Elementary School, and plans 56 homes with pocket parks at The Schoolyard, on Wrightstown Road and Avenida Ricardo Small.

“We are sad that schools, which have been the centerpiece of various neighborhoods, are disappearing,” said CEO Bill Viner. “We anticipate having something to commemorate the school on the property like a little book library where neighbors can exchange books.”

The 9.2-acre site will feature single and 2-story homes, 1,400 to 2,100 square feet in size, with six floor plans in three- and four-bedroom models.

Viner said the company is still in the bidding process, but anticipates a price range of the mid- to upper $200,000s.

Demolition has begun and site development is expected to begin this fall, with models ready for viewing early next year.

“The homes at The Schoolyard will be high performance, high design, incorporating energy efficiency and smart-home technology,” Viner said. Homeowners will have the option of controlling home temperatures, entry, lights, security and appliances from their smartphones.

“Hopefully, The Schoolyard will benefit the neighborhood and the overall community,” Viner said.

Last month, the Tucson City Council approved the rezoning of the east-side property for residential use, which finalized the sale.

Two earlier offers to buy the school property — one from an apartment developer and another from a luxury home developer — fell through.

The density of proposed developments was a main concern for area residents, said James B. Marian, land broker with Chapman Lindsey Commercial Real Estate Services, who represented Pepper Viner in the $1.3 million purchase.

While previous proposals included 10 to 12 units per acre, The Schoolyard will have fewer than 6 units per acre, he said.

Tucson Unified School District closed Wrightstown Elementary in 2010.

Contact reporter Gabriela Rico at grico@tucson.com