The John A. Johnson Elementary School property in Two Harbors was sold in November to a developer who reportedly intends to potentially demolish the building to make way for affordable housing.
Mike Happ of the Hugo, Minnesota-based Phoenix Cos. closed on the property Nov. 17 and paid Agate Bay Properties $160,000. He is in communication with the city of Two Harbors to determine the next steps for the building. Happ informed the Lake County Housing and Redevelopment Authority (LCHRA) of his plan to possibly demolish the building.
Phoenix purchased the former Knife River schoolhouse in October 2016 from the Lake County Developmental Achievement Center and converted it to apartments. Units were available for lease starting in 2017.
The John A. Johnson parcel is zoned R-2 - one- or two-family dwelling residential. Happ told the LCHRA at a meeting in October that in conversations with Two Harbors city officials, he was optimistic about working with them to change the zoning if necessary. Happ couldn't confirm for the News-Chronicle if there is still an intention to demolish the building and said talks with city officials are still "fluid."
The John A. Johnson was a pre-K-3 school when it closed in 2005. Students were moved to Minnehaha Elementary School when the new Two Harbors High School building opened the same year. John A. Johnson, built in 1953 with several remodels and additions later, was sold by Lake Superior School District in 2006 to Agate Bay Properties for $52,500. At the time, there were plans to remodel the building for rental housing.