Crawford Elementary School was recently renovated by a team of developers with RES Development Inc. into a historical condominium and renamed “The Crawford.”
Luke Jensen, one of the first developers on the team, said he created The Crawford with the idea to serve a community outside of students. He said he grew up in Ames and his father Dean Jensen, started RES Development Inc. with a passion for historical preservation and adaptive reuse.
Jensen said the team noticed the challenge for communities to find a new use with old schools. He said schools around Iowa tend to stay vacant, and he wants to use this as an opportunity to redevelop the buildings.
“One of the things that we [the developing team] like to think about when we’re doing this is adaptive reuses kind of bring in a new chapter, breathing new life into an old vacant building,” Jensen said. “And it’s really neat and really rewarding experience to see now 30 different families or people coming into these condos and creating their life, and creating memories and creating their new set of history within our building.”
Jensen said he saw the original structure of the building as an opportunity and worked with the development team to design The Crawford.
Within The Crawford, there are elements of the school scattered around. In the entrance, there is a large blackboard and the apartments contain the original brick wall and the art on it.
Jensen also said creating the condos was a way to serve community members ages 55 and up. He said a lot of the residents grew up in Ames and went to Iowa State, and the location allows them to rebuild their roots.
Stephen and Connie Ringlee, longtime Ames community members and current residents within The Crawford said they lived near the school and were friends with many people who attended it, and Stephen Ringlee was the president of the school board when Crawford Elementary closed down.
Connie Ringlee said the primary reason they chose to live in The Crawford was the location. She said all their areas of interest were within walking distance and allowed them to continue to be a part of the Ames and Iowa State community.
“We love living in Ames ... we have a close connection to the university,” Connie Ringlee said. “We will continue to use that connection even after I retire, going to events on campus, and maybe even publicizing events for other people living in the [Crawford] building.”
Stephen Ringlee also said The Crawford allowed residents to become closer and reach out into the community.
In order to inform the community about the project, Jensen brought Kelsey Bolte-Carper to help inform them about it.
Bolte-Caper said they worked with the Iowa State Alumni Association to push their marketing toward the "older community." She also said it is a goal to inform the university about this project and to see what is going on within the campus community.
The Crawford will also be involved with the Parade of Homes to help visitors explore the property in person and will be held June 4 - 9.