Clara City, Chippewa County to continue working to remove old school

Chippewa County and Clara City were not successful in obtaining state redevelopment funds to help with the costs of removing the former junior high school.

Chippewa County will partner with Clara City in hopes of obtaining grant funds to raze the former Junior/Senior High buildings in the community. The tax-forfeited property is considered a safety hazard and eyesore. Clara City would like to see housing developed on the site. Tom Cherveny / West Central Tribune file photo

CLARA CITY — Chippewa County remains interested in working with Clara City for the removal of the former Junior High School and the possibility of developing new housing at the site.

The county and city had shared the costs for submitting an application for redevelopment funds to the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development in January.

The application was recently rejected, City Administrator Steve Jones of Clara City told the Chippewa County Board of Commissioners at its meeting June 2. He said there is the possibility of submitting a new application. He said the partners would need to “enhance” the application by having more specific commitments lined up for the removal of the facility and for new housing at the site.

When submitting the application, the city cited interest by a group of investors in developing town homes at the site if cleared.

The application to the state sought $250,000 in state funds toward the costs of removing the facility, which would be matched by local funds. The removal would cost $484,000, according to a contractor’s estimate from one year earlier.


The facility once held the junior high school. There had been 16 apartment units developed in it and later abandoned. An architect’s examination for the city found leaks in the roofing, widespread mold problems, and a warped floor in the gymnasium described as “looking like a skateboard park.” There was also extensive vandalism throughout the interior.

Along with seeking a new grant, Jones told the commissioners that he is willing to put together a request for proposals to see if there are developers interested in taking on a project there.

The commissioners encouraged him to pursue any opportunities. Both the city and county are concerned that the tax-forfeited site will need to be removed for public safety, and that the cost will fall to taxpayers. “You know who is going to pay,’’ said Commissioner Jim Dahlvang.

What To Read Next
Get Local