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The former junior high school in Williston has been renovated into affordable apartments for seniors. Amy Dalrymple / Forum News Service

Renovated school provides affordable senior housing in Williston

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WILLISTON, N.D. – Shirley Trogstad’s new home is her former junior high study hall room.

The Williston woman is one of the first tenants of Lutheran Social Services Legacy Living at Central Place, the historic junior high school that was recently renovated into affordable senior apartments.

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Lutheran Social Services Housing preserved the building to offer an affordable option for seniors facing escalating rent prices in the Oil Patch.

“I think it’s a blessing for our community,” said Trogstad, 73. “I hope there will be more of this kind of construction because of the need for it.”

The 44-unit complex has about eight to 10 units still available, said Lisa Richmond, community outreach coordinator with Lutheran Social Services Housing.

One factor causing a delay in filling the units is what Richmond calls “the Williston phenomenon.”

“No matter how much you tell them, they do not believe we still have apartments still available,” Richmond said. “They’ve been so used to this story of there being nothing available.”

Trogstad most recently lived in Williston Senior Apartments after the rent on her house increased more than she could afford.

The one- and two-bedroom Central Place apartments rent for $330, $653 and $783 per month, including utilities, for tenants who meet income requirements. The $330 apartments are full.

For at least 30 years, the rental prices may increase slightly as operating expenses go up, but tenants won’t see their rents suddenly double as other Williston seniors have recently experienced, Richmond said.

The apartment complex, designed by Fargo-Moorhead based Michael J. Burns Architecture, preserves historic features of the building, which was constructed in 1931 and is on the National Register of Historic Places. The former gymnasium is being renovated into a room for dining and special events.

Trogstad recognizes the original wood flooring from her former study hall in the hallway outside her new apartment.

“I’ve got fond memories of being in this building,” said Trogstad, who graduated from high school in 1959.

Trogstad especially likes the large, multi-paned windows in her corner apartment.

“It’s so spacious looking,” Trogstad said. “I have more pep being in this building because of the sunshine mainly, I think.”

The $10.6 million redevelopment was supported by federal, state and local government funding. The primary type of funding, tax credit financing, requires a longer process for applicants to get approved, Richmond said.

But once tenants qualify, they will not have to move out of the complex if their income increases in the future, Richmond said.

For more information, contact (701) 271-3207, housing@lssnd.org, or stop by the Lutheran Social Services Williston Program Center at 603 Main St.

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Amy Dalrymple

Amy Dalrymple is a Forum News Service reporter stationed in the Oil Patch. She can be reached at adalrymple@forumcomm.com or (701) 580-6890.

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