Former Roosevelt Elementary school offers new housing to northside

Former Roosevelt Elementary school...

LA CROSSE, Wis. (WKBT) - The former Roosevelt Elementary school on La Crosse's north side has undergone a major transformation.

Gorman and Company out of Oregon, Wisconsin, also responsible for the Grand River Station and Gund Brewery Loft apartments, hosted a grand opening ceremony for its latest project Wednesday.

Built in 1923, the historic building served as Roosevelt Elementary School for decades. Now, it's serving the north side as affordable housing.

"It brought back a gazillion memories,” former Roosevelt Elementary student Barb Zimmerman said.

Many fondly recall their school years at Roosevelt. A ribbon-cutting ceremony Wednesday celebrated the building's future.

"From financing to zoning to other issues, it became very challenging, and people's perseverance really has made the day,” La Crosse Mayor Tim Kabat said.

In partnership with the city and school district, Gorman and Company funded the project with low-income and historic tax credits, along with grants from the city.

The Wisconsin Housing and Economic Development Authority helped finance the project with $196,606 in low-income housing tax credits and about $5.8 million of tax-exempt bonds.

The project has been years in the making,

"We're all very proud and excited to get in and check it out,” Kabat said.

Roosevelt Elementary is now officially Roosevelt School Apartments, with 33 one- and two-bedroom units.

The apartments are for those making below 60 percent of the La Crosse County's median income; monthly rent is $685 for a one-bedroom and $885 for a two-bedroom.

"When it comes together, you really feel like this is an asset,” said Ted Matcom, Gorman and Company’s Wisconsin market president.

For some, walking these hallways has special meaning.

"I'm a proud graduate of Roosevelt Elementary,” Congressman Ron Kind said.

And as part of the project's historic remodel ... rows of lockers, including Kind's, remain.

"I was number 15. That was Bart Starr’s number, that’s how I remember,” Kind said.

The school's original doors still stand as well.

"Being able to preserve this now and create affordable opportunities for families to create their own memories on north side, I couldn't think of a better use for this historic building,” Kind said.

"I just think it's wonderful; I can't say that enough,” Zimmerman said. “It's beautiful."

Zimmerman not only went to elementary school at Roosevelt, but also served as the principal's secretary for 10 years.

"I would've never in 100 years guessed something this historical could turn into this,” she said.

She said the former school's transformation makes the grade.

"This is an A+ for the north side,” Zimmerman said.

Matcom said the 33 apartments are all leased up for the year except for one. About 10 people have already moved in, and the rest should be in by the end of the year.

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