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Two historic and architecturally significant schools, one in Davenport and one in Clinton, could be rehabbed into 18 apartments each if funding is approved in January by the Iowa Economic Development Authority.

In Davenport, Quad-City developer Chris Ales wants to convert the old Buchanan School, 2104 W. 6th St., into 18 senior apartments.

In Clinton, Community Housing Initiatives, or CHI, based in Spencer, Iowa, wants to convert the old Roosevelt School, 600 S. 4th St., into 18 affordable loft apartments.

The undertaking of both projects hinges on the approval of $3 million in funding each from the development authority's Community Development Block Grant Disaster Recovery program.

These are federal funds made available to communities impacted by the 2008 floods and designated for projects that create new housing.

A total of $30 million is available for cities Davenport's size and $25 million for smaller cities such as Clinton in this sixth and final round of funding. The development authority has received 77 applications requesting a total of $165,690,858, or nearly three times the amount available, said Tina Hoffman, the marketing and communications director for the authority.

In all, this program for new production housing received $298,009,182.

Both the Buchanan and Roosevelt schools are listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and both were designed by noted architects whose work helped shape their respective cities.

Here is a closer look at each project:

Buchanan: Ales, through his company, US Holdings, proposes a $5.4 million adaptive reuse and historic renovation of the school that was built and opened in 1904, according to research by the Richardson-Sloane Special Collections Center of the Davenport Public Library.

The building closed in 1940 and apparently was vacant until being purchased in 1951 for use as a U.S. Naval Training Center. The Navy stayed in the building until 1978, when the building again became vacant, according to library researchers.

It was purchased in 1988 by Donald "Bobe" Lopez, who has used it as storage space for his antique auto parts business on West 2nd Street, Ales said.

The project is "shovel-ready" because all of the prep work, except the last piece of funding, is in place, Ales said. If approved, the next move would "be to apply for a building permit," with construction beginning in April, he added.

Prep work has included marketing and environmental studies, final construction drawings and approval of all the other financing: federal and state historic tax credits, Iowa Enterprise Zone tax benefits and a commitment for conventional financing.

The request for the $3 million in disaster recovery money was forwarded to the state by the city of Davenport. Bruce Berger, the director of the city's community planning and economic development department, called it an "exciting project" that would make high use of a building "the neighborhood has been looking at for a long time."

Ales said it would be difficult to find another funding source that would make the project financially feasible. "That is why it has sat for so long," he said of the building.

The school was designed in the Georgian Colonial and Renaissance Revival architectural styles by the noted architectural firm of Clausen Burrows, which also designed the former Taylor (now senior living apartments) and Pierce schools in Davenport.

It is made of brick and limestone and features arched doorways, three window shapes and a red clay tile roof.

At present it is surrounded by a chain-link fence and the property is overgrown with trees and brush.

The Buchanan school at 4515 N. Fairmount St. that is in use today opened in 1971-72.

Roosevelt: CHI proposes a $4.5 million project that would convert the brick and limestone building that was completed in 1889 into 18 loft apartments.

The towered building at 600 S. 4th St. originally was called Clinton High School and Public Library. It served as a high school until 1922, and then it was the office of the superintendent and an elementary school named Roosevelt until 1973-74, according to the application nominating it for the national register.

Its final educational use was as the Clinton Community School District's administration center. But it wasn't handicapped-accessible, so the district moved in 2013 to a new administrative center, and the building has been vacant since then, Superintendent Deb Olson said.

Contingent upon financing, the school district would sell the building for $5,000, she said. "The district believes that the community would benefit greatly from (this project) of renovating and revitalizing the structure for positive use."

The building was designed in the late Victorian Romanesque style by architect Josiah Rice, who designed many buildings in Clinton, including the county courthouse and the Curtis Mansion/Clinton Women's Club, according to the national register nomination form.   

In addition to the federal disaster recovery funding, the project would be financed with $150,000 from the city, conventional financing, equity and state historic tax credits, a CHI representative said.

If approved, construction could begin in 2015.

This would be CHI's fifth historic adaptive reuse project in Clinton. Others include the Van Allen building designed by architect Louis Sullivan.


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