New life for an old school: Apple Blossom Apartments to open soon


Staff Writer

IRON RIVER – Development of Apple Blossom Apartments in Iron River is nearing completion and the building should be ready for occupancy at the beginning of April.

The former Central School building has been transformed into an apartment complex containing 22 one, two, and three-bedroom units and a community room.

At a preview event, officials from the Iron River Downtown Development Authority (DDA), Dickinson Iron Community Services Agency (DICSA) and other agencies were invited to tour the building and view several completed apartments.

The Apple Blossom Apartments are a low-income housing tax credit development, similar to the Crystal View Apartments in Crystal Falls, renovated by the same team in 2010. There are no conventional, market-rate apartments available, officials said.

“The whole idea of the project is to provide safe, nice, affordable housing for low-income households,” said Elizabeth Chilson, compliance officer with MTH Management. “The whole idea is to get people on their feet and moving along.”

Eight of the apartments have been set aside to house people from three target populations: special needs, domestic violence survivors, and the homeless.

Renovations began in March 2013, but the Apple Blossom project has been in the works for more than nine years.

Located at 218 West Cayuga Street, the Central School building was constructed in 1904. It served as an elementary, middle school and high school before closing in 1980.

The building has been unoccupied since that time. It went through a series of owners.

Due to back taxes owed by the previous owner, the property was set to revert back to the state of Michigan in 2004.

In November, 2004, the DDA stepped in and purchased the property, then started researching how the building could accommodate different housing options.

The project has faced several delays in the years since.

First, there was an unfavorable tax credit market. Then, the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) determined that the DDA would need to remove some underground tanks on the property, as well as asbestos and lead paint in the building.

With a Brownfield loan of more than $700,000, the DDA was able to address most of the environmental concerns in 2008.

In early 2012, the Michigan State Housing Development Authority (MSHDA) approved the DDA’s request for tax credits.

The lead paint abatement then began in late 2012.

The project’s architect is Barry Polzin of Marquette and Wolverine Building Group of Grand Rapids is the general contractor.

Iron County Board of Commissioners Chair Jim Brennan, was pleased to see the 110-year-old building, which is listed on the National Historic Register, dodge the wrecking ball.

“The architecture is beautiful, and I’m impressed with the layout,” Brennan said. “It’s nice to see this building be given a new life.”

Many of the apartments have already been leased, but a few units are still available. Those interested in applying for the waiting list can contact the Apple Blossom leasing office at (517) 969-9083, ext. 17.

More information on Apple Blossom Apartments is available at

Evan Reid’s e-mail address is