- Associated Press - Friday, March 25, 2016

BURLINGTON, Iowa (AP) - Three developers are competing to transform a long-neglected school building in Burlington.

The Hawk Eye (https://bit.ly/1RDe0NJ ) reports that two developers shared their plans with the City Council last week, and one more is scheduled to present in April.

A Fontanelle middle school teacher, Stephanie Steffens, wants to reopen the school as several arts programs. She plans to pay for the project with donations and grants designed for historic preservation, arts, humanities and nonprofits.

“It could offer a lot to the youth of Burlington,” she said. “In the public school system, the arts are one of the areas that always seem to be cut.”

The Ohio-based Miller-Valentine group intends to turn the building into nearly 70 loft-style apartment units. It wants the city to contribute tax increment financing and would apply for historic tax credits.

“We’re here for the long haul,” spokesman Paul Schweigeraht told the City Council. “We do not sell our residential assets. In fact, we still own our very first housing developments we ever built.”

Illinois-based Landover Corp., along with Indiana-based TWG Development, is planning a similar development and would also angle for historic tax credits.

Community Development and Parks Director Eric Tysland says Burlington should have an idea about the project this summer.

The building was home to Burlington High School for more than 50 years until 1969, when it became a middle school. From 1983 until 2002, the district used it as an alternative high school. Developers then bought it, and it changed ownership several times before the city took possession of it in November.

The building hasn’t been well-maintained. Lead paint peels in many of the classrooms, ceiling tiles litter the floor and pigeons have made it their home.

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Information from: The Hawk Eye, https://www.thehawkeye.com

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