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West Elementary School demolished to make way for single-family homes

Property to be developed for construction of 11 homes in north-side neighborhood

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A pair of excavators work to demolish the West Elementary school near University Park on Wednesday, Dec. 16. West Elementary School was closed in February 2020 after unhealthy levels of radon were discovered in parts of the building. Students and staff were reassigned to Discovery Elementary School on the city’s far south side for the rest of the school year. West remained closed during the 2020-21 school year. Eric Hylden/Grand Forks Herald
Eric Hylden / Grand Forks Herald
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After more than 70 years as a neighborhood anchor on the city’s north side, West Elementary School is being demolished this week.

The school property, at 615 N. 25th St., was sold this past fall to Oxford Realty and its partner, Premiere Homes & Builders, for $150,000. The partners are planning to build 11, single-family homes on the land which is zoned for residential purposes. The homes are expected to have a double-stall garage with alley access and extra parking, and a fully fenced backyard with patio.

Most of the lots would have 50-foot frontages, according to the Oxford proposal submitted, along with the bid, to the school district.

The developers’ plan, which has gone through the city’s planning department, is scheduled to be presented to the City Council at its Monday, Dec. 20, meeting. If approved, new home construction would begin in the spring.

West Elementary School was closed in February 2020 after unhealthy levels of radon were discovered in parts of the building. Students and staff were reassigned to Discovery Elementary School on the city’s far south side for the rest of the school year. West remained closed during the 2020-21 school year.

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In March 2021, the School Board voted to permanently close West, based on the extensive cost of repairing or replacing infrastructure and the district demographer’s forecast of continuing low enrollment — estimated to be in the 80s for grades K-5 — for the next three years.

A community celebration and picnic to mark the permanent closure of West Elementary was held at the school Aug. 18.

Pamela Knudson is a features and arts/entertainment writer for the Grand Forks Herald.

She has worked for the Herald since 2011 and has covered a wide variety of topics, including the latest performances in the region and health topics.

Pamela can be reached at pknudson@gfherald.com or (701) 780-1107.
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