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From school to home: Prairie View Senior Living up and running in old elementary

Bernard Schoeder looks into a completed unit. The finished product, renovated from two original classrooms, boasts vinyl wood-like floors, a full kitchen, private laundry, carpeted bedrooms and a patio. Rachel Helgeson / RiverTown Multimedia1 / 5
The gymnasium was turned into a community room, keeping the original flooring. Bathrooms were built into the gym, but the kitchen remained the same. Residents may lounge in front of a TV and library or dine in the designated area. They are free to use the space for parties or other events, Schoeder said. Rachel Helgeson / RiverTown Multimedia2 / 5
The community room includes an entertainment area stocked with books and a TV. Rachel Helgeson / RiverTown Multimedia3 / 5
The outside of the Prairie View building has the same brick facade, though new windows and patio doors have been added for each unit. The attached garage for residential parking can be seen at the right of this photo. Rachel Helgeson / RiverTown Multimedia4 / 5
The garage was added to the building to allow residents indoor parking spaces. Rachel Helgeson / RiverTown Multimedia5 / 5

Situated along a quiet stretch of road lined with pine trees, the former Prairie View elementary school in Hager City was once a place for young minds.

The school has now been given a new life dedicated to housing seniors wanting to live independently.

Bay City resident Bernard Schoeder, who has spent 42 years in the construction business, fought to keep the elementary school from being demolished in March 2018 with plans to renovate it as Prairie View Senior Living. The school, along with Hillcrest Elementary in Ellsworth, ceased to house Ellsworth Community School District students last year when a centrally located Ellsworth Elementary opened in January 2018.

Finally his plan to build 17 livable units within the old classrooms is complete. He has been renting units to residents 55 years and older since Feb. 1 with ten units left as of March 12.

The feedback he's received about repurposing the building has been positive, according to Schoeder.

"We've had lots of people stop in and say how glad they are that we did this," he said. "There's been a tremendous amount of public support for it, more than I ever dreamed."

Renovated by Bay City-based Oakvale Builders, the structure offers:

• 5 two-bedroom units rented at $1,150/ month.

• 11 one-bedroom units rented at $1,050/ month.

• 1 efficiency unit similar to a studio-style space rented at $950/ month.

• Each unit includes personal laundry, vinyl wood-like flooring in main living and carpet in the bedrooms, a concrete patio and a full kitchen. The charges for each unit include all utilities and a parking space fee.

• Community room built in the old gymnasium including a library, entertainment center, lounging, kitchen, public bathrooms, dining and exercise area.

• Attached indoor garage with individual parking spaces.

Schoeder said the building itself, which was built in 1964, is as it was when it served as a school, except for demolition to the outer walls to take out classroom windows and put in new windows and patio doors.

When asked whether there will be organized activities for residents at the living center, Schoeder said "whatever the tenants want." The same goes for how the exercise area will be completed with equipment.

March 23 from 1-4 p.m. there will be an open house for the public. The exact address for Prairie View Senior Living is W7375 170th Ave., Hager City.

Further updates may be followed on their Facebook page at www.facebook.com/prairieviewseniorliving1

Rachel Helgeson

Rachel Helgeson

(651) 301-7864