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City of West Des Moines to Buy Elementary School

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WEST DES MOINES, Iowa - As students returned to classes this month, Phenix Elementary School, along 7th Street in West Des Moines, closed its doors for the first time. The West Des Moines Community School District voted to shut the school down last year due to budget constraints, and Friday, the school board approved the building's sale to the city.

The city has until mid-January to acquire a federal grant they applied for to help pay for the purchase of just over $500,000. As long as that goes through, Superintendent Lisa Remy said the city will likely convert the building into an apartment complex.

"They are looking at it to be live-work apartments," she said. "It ranges from one-bedroom to three-bedroom apartments and I believe it's around 17 apartments that would be conducted within that building."

The live-work apartments would allow for local artists to both live and work from their homes there. Remy said it was a good deal for both the school district and the city; abandoned buildings run the risk of becoming run-down and a problem for nearby neighborhoods over time if they aren't re-purposed.

Remy said the district saved $1.2 million this year by closing Phenix, and the additional revenue from selling the building to the city will help with budget issues, as well.