WEST DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — A former school in West Des Moines will be reopening as a 17-unit apartment building primarily for local artists.

An open house at the former Phenix Elementary School will be held on Wednesday, the Des Moines Register reported. The former school opened in 1939 and closed in 2014 due to rising capital costs.

The city approved the apartment transition last year to help bolster the art scene at nearby Valley Junction.

"The city was really looking for a way to link the residential part of the neighborhood to what's happening there," said Matt Hauge, communications director for the Community Housing Initiatives, the project's developer.

The building features one-, two- and three-bedroom apartments that have replaced the facility's former classrooms. Crews preserved lockers in some of the hallways and the building's gym with basketball hoops. Residents will also have available work space at shared studios in the former school.

"You don't build them like this anymore,"Hauge said. "There's no competition for this building. It's in a category by itself."

One-bedroom apartments will be rented for about $650-$850 per month; two-bedrooms will go for $780-$975 per month; and three-bedrooms will cost $1,000-$1,200 per month.

More than half of the mixed-income apartments have been rented out. The building has a "preference" for artist residents, but non-artists can also apply, Hauge said.

To be considered an artist, applicants have to meet certain criteria, including showing proof of income derived from art, commercial promotion or public display. Qualifying artists for the building include sculptors, painters, singers, actors and authors. Non-artists will have a harder time securing an apartment.


Information from: The Des Moines Register, http://www.desmoinesregister.com