Story updated to correct per unit purchase price.
When Peter Schmid saw the for-sale listing of the former school in Luverne, he was instantly drawn to the three-story brick structure.
“That building is golden,” said the South Dakota native.
“We don’t have anything like this is Rapid City — our schools were converted to other uses.
He’s owned the City Center Apartments for seven years, but now Schmid wants to pursue business closer to home.
So, he wants local residents to fulfill his vision.
For an average price of $50,000 per unit, buyers can invest under a condominium-style of ownership.
When Schmid purchased the 75,000 square-foot structure, he planned to convert each of the 37 apartments into condominium units.
“I loved the way it turned out, but it is hard to do it from afar,” he said.
With no plans to move from his hometown, Schmid is first offering the building for sale to someone locally who will appreciate and further repurpose the building for housing.
“A community member will do a better job than an outsider,” Schmid said.
The brick building that sits on an entire city block was constructed in 1926 as the “new” Luverne High School.
It later became Luverne Elementary when the current middle-high school opened in 1956.
The building was sold to a Sioux Falls development company in 2000, a year after the new (current) elementary school opened on the same campus as the middle-high school.
The development company reconfigured about 30,000 square-feet of classroom space into one- to three-bedroom apartments.
“There is a huge percentage of the building that is public space,” Schmid said.
Lockers were removed from the hallways, which were carpeted, and the tall ceilings were left open, as they were when students roamed the halls.
Each floor has a laundry room carved from former student bathrooms with much of the character, such as the original pine classroom doors, kept as is.
Keeping the building’s original features appealed to Schmid.
“You ended up with an extremely unique product that you can’t duplicate,” he said.
Outside, the asphalt playground was replaced with an east side parking lot, a green area to the south and 25 garages on the building’s west side.
James Misino and his wife, Anne, moved into a two-bedroom apartment almost 10 years ago.
The couple, whose apartment overlooks the Rock County Courthouse, said they like living in the building.
James Misino said the building evokes nostalgia when he was a schoolboy growing up on the East Coast.
“School brings back a lot of fine memories,” he said. “It’s been nice living in the building here.”
Schmid can be reached at 605-431-0865 or firstname.lastname@example.org.