AMES, Iowa-Roosevelt Elementary closed in 2005, there was some talk of demolishing the old building. Instead the school district decided to see if anyone would purchase the school, and find a new use for it. This weekend the community is getting to see the end result of that decision. An open house will be held Saturday Feb. 21 from 10am-Noon. Another Open House will be Sunday Feb. 22 from 1-3pm.
Developer Dean Jensen, of RES-Development purchased the property and over a number of months has converted the building into 20 condominium units. Selling for prices range from $170,000 to over $300,000. So far, almost all of the units have been sold.
RES-Development has a team of people who work to not only make shiny new living spaces, but also add historic touches to the building.
"When the school board started talking about demolishing this building, there were several of us thought that was not such a good idea," said Sharon Wirth who formerly was Chair of the Ames Historic Preservation Commission. She began to check out the ideas of Dean Jensen, and liked his proposal so much, she and her husband Don were the first to buy a condo at The Roosevelt.
"It's an old meets new effort when you're working adaptive re-use, we identify the structural parts that are important to the building and to the history of the building," said Jensen. "Leaving some history behind of what that would have been like, to us as developers is a very important part of a new living experience," said Jensen. "So that each unit has its own story, its own history and we wanted to expose as much of that as we could."
Jensen and his team brought in 1920's era fireplace mantles and buffets which had been salvaged from homes that were to be demolished.
"We tried to find things that relate to that time period," said Jensen. "We went to demolition sites where old houses being prepared to take down, or to stores that salvage these kinds of things, and brought them back here."
"The thing I appreciate about Dean, is his ability to envision changes and something different," said Sharon Wirth "Anybody who's going to work with old buildings needs to have that."
"I see him as an artist first and a developer second," said Don Wirth. "This project really gave him a lot of free rein for his artistic bent."
So far open houses have been well attended. Jensen said they had received over 2000 emails from people wanting to know when they could see the finished product.
"Communication is the key, being able to let people know what you want to do," said Jensen.