The Bown-Corby Building in Marion has been placed on the National Register of Historic Places, city officials were informed Monday.
The designation means construction can begin on a $500,000 renovation project to convert the former school building into an apartment complex.
Economic Development Director Terry Jones said developer Tom George expects to finish construction on the project in September.
“(Being registered) is big for more than just construction,” Jones said. “It will help to get more ad exposure, so it’s a pretty big deal.”
City Administrator Roger Holter said the project is a credit to the city, similar to the repurposing of the train depot into the city library.
“We do see it as a real plus for the community,” Holter said. “And in this case it fits in with the legacy of honoring the past any way we can, enjoying present, and hopefully building for the future.”
The options for the building in July were either to “mothball” the building by shutting off utilities and waiting for later development, turning it into an economic development incubator, or repurposing it via a developer.
Holter said given high tax rates, having it purchased by a developer was the “best-case scenario” for the city.
“We’ve seen far too many surrounding communities that have lost institutional buildings,” Holter said. “We’re proud to see these initiatives in Marion.”