The former Mandan High School is undergoing asbestos abatements and interior demolition after The Commonwealth Companies, of Fond Du Lac, Wis., closed on the purchase of the property Sept. 27.

About $6.2 million will be spent on renovations as the former school becomes Historic Apartments on 4th, providing the community with 39 units of affordable housing.

"They hope to be in full swing with renovation after Thanksgiving, so it'll be a good winter project for contractors," said Ellen Huber, Mandan's business development director.

The former school was recently listed on the National Register of Historic Places, a list of properties the federal government considers worthy of preservation and recognition. The Commonwealth Companies will need to abide by the renovation requirements that coincide with such a designation.

In addition to the high school, the building once housed Mandan's junior high school, elementary school and an academy for sixth-graders.

The school district sold the building to Jordan Schuetzle, of Grand Forks, who, in turn, sold it to an affiliate of the Spirit of Life Catholic Church.

The Commonwealth Companies now owns the building and has overcome several hurdles in keeping the project moving forward, including restructuring the financing and dealing with higher than expected bids.

"Because of the need to restructure financing for this project, the entity is no longer seeking a Bank of North Dakota FLEX Pace interest buydown for affordable housing," Huber said.

Mandan's city commission and the growth fund committee had previously committed about $83,000 toward the local share needed for such a buydown.

The money will be deposited back into the growth fund, which has a current balance of $256,797, to be used for future economic development projects.

"It's a good thing the project's moving forward," Mayor Tim Helbling said.


General Assignment Reporter