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Duluth’s retro school now revamped into trendy apartments.

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TLDR: Saturday Properties has recently completed a project that converts the Historic Old Central High School in Duluth, Minnesota into 122 apartments. The $34.9 million adaptive reuse project was developed by Saturday Properties in collaboration with Kraus-Anderson on construction and AWH Architects on design. The building, known as Zenith DCHS, is now about 50% leased.

 

Key points:

  • Saturday Properties has converted the Historic Old Central High School in Duluth into 122 apartments.
  • The adaptive reuse project, developed at a cost of $34.9 million, aimed to preserve the building’s historical features.
  • The building is about 50% leased, with 10% of the apartments being affordable for households at 60% or less of the area median income.

 

Detailed Summary:

Minnesota-based Saturday Properties, working in collaboration with Kraus-Anderson on construction and AWH Architects on design, has completed an adaptive reuse project to convert the Historic Old Central High School in Duluth into 122 apartments. The $34.9 million project aimed to preserve the building’s historical features, including original woodwork, gym floors, and the clocktower, which has been made operational again. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the four-story building housed administrative offices for the school district after its use as a school ended in 1971.

The building, now known as Zenith DCHS, is about 50% leased. Approximately 10% of the apartments are considered affordable for households at 60% or less of the area median income, reflecting the tight housing market in Duluth. The project team also plans to add amenities to the auditorium, including a fitness center, sauna, coworking space, and workshop facilities. The adaptive reuse project began construction in May 2022 and concluded in January 2024.

General Manager Josh Beatty of Saturday Properties, who is also a resident in the building, expressed his excitement about the project, stating that he had always been captivated by the building’s Richardsonian Romanesque architecture. The successful completion of the project allowed him to fulfill his desire to move to Duluth, highlighting the unique opportunity the project presented. The adaptive reuse project received significant support from the Historic Society, which worked closely with Saturday Properties to preserve the building’s historical significance through the redevelopment process.

The project team faced several challenges during construction due to the building’s age, including the need to remodel mechanical systems to serve the individual apartments and insulate the entire building to modern standards. However, Beatty expressed gratitude for the support and assistance provided by Kraus-Anderson, the construction partner. Beatty highlighted the goal of the project is to preserve the history of the building while also providing people with a place to live. Tours of the building will be offered periodically to historical society members and alumni to keep the history of the building alive.

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