Historic Irwin School in De Pere to be redeveloped into condos

DE PERE, Wis. (WBAY) -- The old Irwin School, nestled in the heart of downtown De Pere north of George Street, has been vacant for more than ten years.

Now, developers are about to turn the historic building into housing

“The school itself is a beautiful building,” said Kim Flom, development services director for De Pere. “We were really excited to see a proposal come in that would reuse the school as a residential use, which is compatible with the neighborhood; preserve the architecture and preserve the character of the surrounding area.”

Milwaukee View LLC is the developer. It acquired Irwin School on January 25 and plans to turn the 95-year-old building into eight condos.

Around the rest of the property will be 12 town homes.

“Aesthetically, the historic building will remain the same from the outside; but the town homes that will be on the parking lot, we'll really try to have more aspects from the current neighborhood,” said Anuj Rastogi, director of finance and investments for Milwaukee View.

He says an important aspect of the property they will also preserve is the green space around the front of the school.

The developers, known for preserving historic sites and turning them into market rate housing just happened to drive by the property and decided they were up to the challenge of redevelopment.

“Initially, it was a hard project to crack mainly because of the size of the school, it being a smaller project,” said Rastogi.

Generally speaking, smaller historic buildings take more capital and are expensive projects.

But city leaders say it will be worth the investment as they look at De Pere’s growth.

“Growing for us means more retail and restaurants and things to do downtown, adding more residential downtown is the way to do that,” said Flom.

Milwaukee View is no stranger to the Green Bay area and are in the process of redeveloping Green Bay's historic Whitney Elementary School and Appleton’s Zoke building.

“We really enjoy redeveloping historic properties. They have a lot of meaning to the neighborhood, they have a lot of character and they have a lot of, of course, history for the neighborhood and the city,” said Rastogi.

Whitney Elementary School will be turned into 23 apartments with 17 town homes around it. The project has been stalled due to the government shutdown, but developers hope to start construction anytime now.

As for the Irwin School, construction is anticipated to start this spring with shovels in the ground by summer.