Reinventing Old Schools: Franklin Arts Center [VIDEO]
BRAINERD -- WJON news is continuing to look at former school buildings in other communities that have been transformed into something new. Today we travel up to Brainerd to check out the "Franklin Arts Center" in the old Franklin Junior High School.
Erika Dani is the Asset Manager for "Artspace Projects Inc." the company that bought and renovated the building. She says they need to be invited to come into a community.
Usually, we ask them to do an artist market survey which we provide the infrastructure for that, but we ask them to carry out. And we find out if there are enough artists to support an artist live/work space. If there are, then we have deeper conversations.
Dani says the company doesn't mind taking on the challenge of converting old buildings.
We specialize in areas that a lot of other developers have had trouble being successful in. If there's an arts community, and there's a site that will work, then we can usually work within.
Brutger Equities Incorporated based in St. Cloud manages the property. Spokeswoman Cindy Krueger says you do have to be an artist to live in one of their 25 affordable housing units.
Once the application is approved, we do give them an artist interview and we collaborate that with about six residents between commercial and residential and we ask them to answer about 10 questions to see if they are a good fit for Franklin.
Krueger says they have a waiting list of 10 to 20 people right now. They offer studio, one bedroom, and two bedroom units, which range in price from $250 to $600 a month.
Krueger says they have 35 commercial spaces that range from a knitting store, a dance studio, woodworking shop, and skin care consultants. She says turnover on both the commercial and residential side is very low.
This year we've had zero move outs. The commercial has been pretty stable, we did have a few vacancies for a couple of years, but it's getting a bit better and we're getting closer to being full.
The Brainerd school district also still leases out some spaces like the gym, locker rooms, and football field.
Dani says, depending on a variety of factors, the process of converting an old building like St. Cloud Technical High School into an artist live/work space could take anywhere from 1 1/2 years to up to 10 years.
Artspace Inc. has 40 projects in operation across the country, and they have 10 more in the development stage right now. The very first school they converted into an artist living space was the "Washington Studios Artist Cooperative" in Duluth.
If you want to see it for yourself, they are holding a 10th Anniversary Open House on August 9th from 4:30 p.m. until 6:30 p.m.
On Monday we told you about the Buzza Lofts of Uptown in Minneapolis.
St. Cloud's Technical High School has one more year as a school. The city bought the building from the school district for $1 and is in the process right now of trying to determine the best use for it in the future.