By Anne Holzman
The Fern, a senior apartment complex built on the old Lauderdale School site, is now open for business.
The 114-unit complex, owned by Real Estate Equities, debuted at the end of September, although a few units and the underground parking still needed finishing then.
The apartments are one- or two-bedroom units available to seniors 55 or older with incomes at 30, 50, or 60 percent of the Twin Cities’ area median income.
REE property manager Patrick Ostrom said he anticipates filling all apartments by early next spring.
Asked where tenants were moving from, Ostrom said, “The vast majority of current and future residents are coming from nearby.”
The city began working with REE in 2019 with the goal of demolishing the old school and developing affordable senior apartments at 1795 Eustis St.
City staff and neighbors shared school memories and saved a few artifacts before the building was demolished in 2022. A reunion building tour in 2018, inspired Lauderdale resident and school alumna Kathy Bernstrom Lerfald to write a book about the school, published earlier this year and available for sale at Lauderdale City Hall.
Meanwhile, the city of Lauderdale and REE staff explored various sources of funding to make the project financially viable. The site was rezoned for multi-family housing, and tax-increment financing (TIF) was agreed upon for a 15-year term.
With that plan in place, REE purchased the property from the city in July 2022.
Anne Holzman is a Bugle freelance writer who covers Lauderdale news.