Former Mandan Junior High School Provides Textbook Case in Affordable Housing

Category: Community, Development, News, Uncategorized

The former Mandan Junior High School has been transformed into 39 units of affordable housing. To celebrate the completion of the project, an open house and public tours are slated for 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Thursday.

Historic Apartments on 4th, 406 Fourth St. N.W., features apartments, a wellness center, large community spaces for meetings and social gatherings, a day care center and private playground.

“It’s not your standard apartment complex. No one unit is the same — they’re all different,” said Brianna McAleer, a regional manager of MetroPlains Management LLC, which manages the property. “We need people to be able to see it … to see what’s been kept and transformed into what you’d want from a modern apartment.”

Wisconsin-based Commonwealth Cos. purchased the property, which also previously housed Mandan’s high school, elementary school and an academy for sixth-graders, in September 2017 and construction began two months later.

Four buildings have been renovated as part of the project: the original facility, constructed in 1917, and three adjoining buildings built in 1924, 1954 and 1977.

Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, many of the property’s historic features — terrazzo flooring, school lockers and original woodwork — have been preserved. Also evoking nostalgia is an old safe, as well as characteristic windows throughout.

In one of the buildings, a former principal’s office with a checkered glass window and tall entry door has been transformed into a walk-in closet. Tour-goers will find other “cool” transformations throughout, according to McAleer.

“At the groundbreaking, the developer was trying to tell me how X, Y and Z were going to look, and about some of the planned transformations. It’s really cool to see it have gone through the phases,” she said. “It’s so cool inside and very unique.”

Each unit will feature energy-efficient appliances, and tenants will have access to on- and off-street surface parking and an elevator. A secure entry and 24/7 maintenance are included in the lease package.

Commonwealth Cos. purchased the property from Mother Teresa Outreach, an affiliate of Spirit of Life Catholic Church, Mandan. Through the agreement, a “few” nuns will be living onsite, according to McAleer, and overseeing the day care, as well as offering supportive services to tenants who have experienced housing instability.

Applicants, who are being sought, will have numerous floor plans to choose from. Apartments are available on a first-come, first-served basis. McAleer said deposits have already been made on several of the units.

“It’s ready to go. We’re definitely taking applications. The sooner you get in and pick your unit, the more selection you’ll have. We’re trying to get as many people as we can moved in before the holidays,” she said, noting Tuesday is move-in day for a number of individuals and families.

Carlene Bahm, of Mandan, who attended the school as a freshman in 1965 and later worked there as a substitute teacher, says she’s glad the facility has a new purpose.

“I think it’s good we reuse the building — nice to see it’s just not torn down,” she said. “It’s good for housing, and there’s a need for affordable housing. Hopefully, it’ll revitalize the area around it, which needs some touching up, too.”

She said her students used to love the malt machine in the school’s cafeteria and recalls the friendliness of teachers, as well as administrators, when she attended.

McAleer says a large turnout is expected for Thursday’s open house, which begins at 10 a.m. with a 30-minute program and ribbon cutting in the community room, followed by tours and refreshments until 2 p.m.

The event is free and open to the public; enter at the main entrance, by the big steps. MetroPlains Management will conduct the tours in groups and show a few housing units.

Applications for tenancy will be accepted at the open house.

McAleer said she feels the apartments will be a good addition to the neighborhood.

“It feels like a community — a safe place like a school would be,” she said. “It’s going to be full of families living in a really cool community.”

Reposted from Bismarck Tribune, Cheryl McCormack, author. View the original article here.