Cohousing at Howe School in Minneapolis

The proposal below is no longer active.  The school will be reopened
as a school due to unexpected jump in enrollement in the area.

As of May 2011 the possibility of developing a cohousing community at the
Howe School site in Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA is being explored.
About Cohousing
The school has been closed since about 2006 and is for sale.
The site is for sale as an " open listing " through NorthMarq for 60 days, June 15th 2011

The school faces south on the south half of a block (with the north half
as open playground). The SW corner of the block is at E 38th St and 44th Av S
That is between 37 & 38th Streets (which run east-west) and
43rd Av S and 44th Av S (which run north-south)  Map
The zip code is 55406.

It is a great location!

* 4 blocks from the Mississippi River and walking/biking trails

* 1 block from retail corner with coffee shop, wine bar, garden
  center, medical clinic THE Riverview Theater,
 "where we present everything from Hollywood's biggest blockbusters to
  niche art films, all in a classic auditorium featuring new high-backed
  rocker seats and digital sound."

* 3 bus lines stop within 1 block of the property

* Easy 5 minute bus ride to the Hiawatha Light Rail Line

* The Longfellow Community Council ( LCC ) is the neighborhood group

--- Historic status ---

* It was chosen as "one of the top 10 endangered buildings in
Minnesota" by the Preservation Alliance of Minnesota
But this does not in itself prevent demolition or extensive renovation
of the building.  That is something determined by the...

* Heritage Preservation Commission  of Minneapolis. Tho Howe School probably has not yet
been reviewed by the HPC, there is some expectation that the school
most likely would be designated as a local historical landmark, which
would mainly prevent demolition.

Picture of the site
Pictures of the site and interior
2010 For Sale listing for site

Discussion on cohousing-L May 25, 2011

Cohousing in Unique Structure / Tornado near Fred
Re: Cohousing in Unique Structure Tornado near Fred
Re: Cohousing in Unique Structure Tornado near Fred
Howe school
Re: Howe school
Re: Howe school
Cohousing in Unique Structure - School, Minneapolis


extracted from the June 10, 2011 Listing Information (large 4.3 MB pdf)
aerial picture of site
Floor plan of first floor
Floor plan of second floor (Link fixed 6/17)
Street view from SE (38th st and 44th av

Note that the gym floor is at about ground level (as are most entrances)
while the first floor of the classroom wings are about 3 feet above ground level.
Note the "D ------->      <------- D"  in the hall way south of the Gym
on the first floor that indicates ramps.  This difference in elevation
allows a higher ceiling in the gym while having some space over the ends of
the gym ( 211 and 214 "Tutor") are above the gym.

I still do not know if there is a basement (which affects how plumbing can be added
to first floor classrooms.

Year Built 1927
Parcel Size 139,300 SF      Rectangular shaped parcel 514 feet x 271 feet
Zoning R1A/Single Family District
Surrounding similar blocks with all houses have about 25 houses.
Parking on Northwest side of the building
Building Size 36,161 square feet
Building Foot Print
First Floor:  19,331 SF - (includes gym space which mostly has no second floor and extension
                            of the west wing to the south which is one story)
Second Floor: 16,830 SF

15 Classrooms:           814 sf.  924 sf.   combined
  first floor              2        3          5
  second floor             4        6         10
  total                    6        9         15
  media center     (2,112 sf)  occupies the space of two classrooms.
  gymnasium/stage  (3,550 sf)
  lunchroom        (1,122 sf)

One possible conversion to cohousing would make each class room into a
living unit and the media center into two for a total of 17 units.

NOTE that this use of "Common area" is NOT the same as the Cohousing "common space".
Real estate use: consisting of hallways/corridors, stairwells,
                  restrooms, elevator, and mechanical rooms.
Cohousing use: Shared spaces: Dining space, group kitchen, shared lounges meeting rooms etc

Total Common Area (hallways etc) 12,300 SF
   7,290 SF First Floor  Common area
   5,010 SF Second Floor Common area

There is one Elevator
Classroom clearing is 12 feet floor to deck. In addition there is a
The distance from floor to floor is  12' 5" 11' 5" being clear.
Above the Level 2 deck is a 4' 10"  wood structure to support the roof.
The exterior walls (parapet) extend 1' 5" above the roof.

The bays vary with the main area containing bays 21' X 22' (462 SF) and
18' X 22' (396 SF). (A bay is architectural term for zone between the
outer edges of engaged columns.) I suspect classrooms are made up of two
bays to make the  814 sf.  924 sf. (36 x 22 or 42 x 22)

Non-classroom Space Staffrooms, office spaces, workrooms,
gymnasium/auditorium, stage, media center, lunchroom, kitchen
Brick exterior on old and new portion
Windows Original Double Hung Type A windows with wood frames (Appx. 169 windows)

Bathrooms Common and private bathrooms

Ceiling Tiles All the classrooms have acoustical ceiling tiles that
are glued on.

HVAC The facility is heated with a 2-pipe boiler system. One is fired
by natural gas, the other by coal. They are both controlled with the
same thermostat.

Roof The roof was inspected during the month of August 2007. All
observations are based upon this date.There are two sections of roof
on this facility. The main section (17,103 square feet) is a 4-ply
built-up roof with one inch of insulation. A 4-ply roof consists of
insulation layers to meet the heat loss code. This insulation is
covered with four layers of tarpaper that are applied with hot tar and
covered with pea sized rock. It was installed in the late 1970's or
early 1980's. It is past its life expectancy and is in immediate need
of major repairs but should be replaced.

From LCC Neighborhood Development Caucus
*Draft* Meeting Minutes June 13, 2011
 Minneapolis Public Schools will be putting Howe School up
 for sale in an open listing. The property will be listed for 60 days,
 after which all proposals will be evaluated. MPS is also considering
 demolishing the building to construct athletic fields for Sanford
 Middle School on the site. The listing of the property for sale will
 allow a determination of whether or not there are viable economic uses
 for the site.

Parking Lot Approximately 30-40 stalls (northwest)
No Fences or Retaining Walls
Six feet wide sidewalks surround the perimeter of the site

This page basically assumes familiarity with the idea of cohousing.
There is a great deal of information about cohousing on the Internet including
The Cohousing Association of the United States ( Coho/US )
Cohousing-L discussion (Which Fred Olson happens to manage)
Monterey Cohousing located 2 miles west of Minneapolis' Uptown was established in 1992.
They will have an information session on Thursday July 21, 2011.  If you want to avoid the long development
process, they have 3 units available.  (see their web site for details)

This page is maintained by Fred H Olson  email: fholson [at]
Since this is a fast developing current proposal this page is a work in progress
and likely not as refined as could be.  Sorry.