By Anne Holzman
A proposal to build 114 senior apartments at the site of a former elementary school in Lauderdale may finally get off the ground in 2022.
A probable breakthrough that will allow tearing down the former elementary school and replacing it with apartments comes after three years of negotiations and many more years of neighborhood discussions about what to do with the site.
In 2018, Lauderdale bought the school site at 1795 Eustis St. from the Chinese Christian Church that had owned it since 1975. Over the years, residents had voiced a need for affordable apartments where they could continue to live in Lauderdale as they aged.
In 2019, the city began working with Real Estate Equities to plan the apartment building.
Since then, the city has applied repeatedly to the state and other entities for funding to make affordable rents possible. Two sources reportedly came through in recent weeks.
City Administrator Heather Butkowski told the City Council at its Jan. 11 meeting that she now expects to finalize the deal with Real Estate Equities by June so that demolition and construction can begin.
Butkowski explained that the recently secured funding will enable the developer to offer rents at several levels depending on a renter’s income. The developer is committed to offering most of the apartments to renters at 50 percent of area median income. Those residents would pay about $1,000 monthly for a one-bedroom apartment under current guidelines. Eleven apartments will be available to renters as low as $600 a month, which would be 30 percent of the area median income.
“There will be a range of prices within the building,” Butkowski said. The apartments will be available to renters ages 55 and up. Butkowski cautioned the council that senior income eligibility is calculated differently from that of working-age adults. She said most seniors will qualify for the apartments “unless they have extraordinary wealth.”
In the coming months, the city will work through the details of vacating an alley, reviewing construction plans and completing other steps that will be brought to the council for approval.
The final stage will be to change the site’s zoning, arrange all the financing and turn the property over to its new owners.
Anne Holzman, a Twin Cities freelance writer, covers Lauderdale government news for the Bugle.