Red Oak Middle School

(Red Oak) -- A project to turn Red Oak's Middle School into income-based housing is receiving a major financial boost from the federal government.

The Iowa Finance Authority announced Wednesday the allocation of more than $8.6 million in Federal Housing Tax Credits. A project proposal from Red Oak Partners LLC was awarded $397,495 in tax credits for work to remodel the former middle school building into 22 income-based housing units. Last September, the Red Oak School Board approved the sale of the building at the end of this school year to the group -- a joint-venture of Prairie Fire Development Group and Builders Development Corporation -- for $5,000. In a previous interview with KMA News, Red Oak Superintendent Tom Messinger said selling the building would save the district considerable demolition expenses.

"We have $1 million in our facilities project budget for demolition of the middle school," said Messinger. "With the sale of the middle school -- after the public hearing and if the financing goes through -- that does save the district $1 million out of that budget. That part of it is huge."

The sale of the building was contingent upon the tax credits being awarded and the rezoning of the property, which was approved last October. Messinger says the group can begin working on the building once this school year is done.

"We would still be in the building all the way through this school year as planned," said Messinger. "The middle school students are planned to move over to the high school campus starting with the next school year. Obviously, we would have some moving that would need to occur and be out of there next fall. They could begin their project then."

In addition to remodeling the facility, Red Oak Partners LLC is collaborating with the Red Oak Tag-A-Long Booster Club to save the facility's gymnasium. In the proposal, the group states that it will work with the Tag-A-Longs to allow the group to maintain the gym addition with possible community use in the future. Prairie Fire also will receive over $700,000 in tax credits for a new construction project in Harlan.

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