Renovations are well underway on Mandan’s former junior high school, which is being transformed into 39 units of affordable housing. The estimated $7 million project is expected to be complete by late December.

In addition to modern amenities, Historic Apartments on 4th will feature the school lockers, terrazzo floors and many of the characteristic windows present when Mandan’s youth roamed the halls. An old safe will also remain.

“It’s a unique, pretty cool project,” said Anthony Foster, project manager with The Commonwealth Cos.

The Wisconsin-based development company purchased the property, which also previously housed Mandan’s high school, elementary school and an academy for sixth-graders, last September, and construction began in November.

Because the former school at 406 Fourth St. N.W. is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the developers must abide by the renovation requirements that coincide with such a designation.

Four buildings are being renovated as part of the project, each built in different years — 1917, 1924, 1954 and 1977. While one building was “done with finishes,” as of Aug. 28, a second was in the midst of “getting rough-in done with drywall to come in the next couple weeks,” Foster said. The two others are “somewhere in between.”

“The buildings are old. Each has their own challenges. They’re all different,” he said. “When you open something up, sometimes you find something unexpected and you have to come up with a different plan. With historic renovations, it’s pretty common to run into that.”

A crew of up to 40 people is working on the project daily, with a public viewing slated Sept. 12.

“We’re going to open it up to the public, and let them come and take a look,” Foster said.

Historic Apartments on 4th will feature a wellness center, large community spaces for meetings and social gatherings, a day care center and private playground.

Tenants, who will have numerous floor plans to choose from, will find energy-efficient appliances, on- and off-street surface parking, a secure entry, 24/7 maintenance and an elevator.

“It’s great to see new use of a historic building like that,” said Ellen Huber, Mandan's business development director. “It would’ve been a shame to see it tore down.

“The project has had a very positive effect on revitalizing the surrounding area and, I think, is much appreciated by the residents and homeowners who live in that part of town,” she added. “We’re very happy to see the project progressing and look forward to seeing it once it’s finished.”

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Reach Cheryl McCormack at 701-250-8264 or cheryl.mccormack@bismarcktribune.com.

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General Assignment Reporter