Coming Full Circle; Legacy of Brownsdale completes renovation of former elementary school

Published 9:28 am Wednesday, November 28, 2018

BROWNSDALE—Seeing new life as the town’s new assisted living center, the former school in Brownsdale, where students would come to learn at the start of their lives will now be coming full circle by welcoming senior residents home.

On a tour of the new Legacy of Brownsdale assisted living center Tuesday afternoon, it was hard to believe that the building used to be the former Brownsdale Elementary School before its closure in June 2016.

Yet, Deidra Burke, owner and property manager of Legacy of Brownsdale, felt that it was important to preserve much of the history of the assisted living center as well as the structural integrity that many Brownsdale residents had loved.

The Legacy of Brownsdale, the site of the former elementary school, is largely completed and will soon begin welcoming guests.

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“The old architecture was important to the town and to us,” Burke said. “The amount of support we had was amazing. I can’t thank the community enough.”

Despite setbacks with licensing, inclement weather that prolonged the construction project, and additional hurdles, Legacy of Brownsdale finally finished its $3.4 million project a little more than a year after it was announced that the former Brownsdale school (that was built in the 1950’s) would become an assisted living center.

“The roof was a lot more involved than we initially thought,” Burke explained. “The electrical system was also in need of a lot of work.”

Burke stated that construction was “100 percent finished” and that technically, she could have residents move in any day. However, she is still awaiting final approval by the state in order to allow Medicare patients to move into Legacy of Brownsdale. Otherwise, all other licensing is completed.

Already, 50 percent of the units at Legacy of Brownsdale have been reserved and over the course of the project, more than 150 applications were submitted inquiring of job opportunities. Depending on the census, Burke anticipates that between 20 to 30 full-time and part-time positions would be filled.

“People were stunned,” she said. “They were very happy that we were able to maintain the integrity of the school. Brownsdale had a tremendous amount of faith in us. It really did come full circle.”

The commons area opens up to the outside with plenty of window space and seating. Just outside this area is a deck where residents will be able to sit as well.

Like our house

The main mission of Legacy of Brownsdale was to make those living at the center feel as “free and at home” as possible.

Taking note of what she would want available inside her own home, Burke wanted to offer similar resources to those moving into the assisted living center.

Inside the former gymnasium, the brick walls were painted a cheery teal and lime green color and large windows allow in ample amounts of natural light. Burke pointed out that it would be servicing the residents at Legacy of Brownsdale like a restaurant, where selections of food could be ordered off of menus and be served to them. It’s not just going to be open for residents at the assisted living center either, but also the general public as well for a flat $8 fee at the front desk, giving them the same options from the menu residents have.

Living spaces at the center were also dramatically different, as Burke pointed out that one of the apartment units was created from a kindergarten classroom. With large rooms, three apartment units were able to be created from a single classroom, according to Burke. 32 apartment units were created, with a housing capacity of 55 residents if there were some looking to move in with their spouses. Each unit encompassed modern features, and a ADA compliant bathroom.

The school library turned into a spacious commons area with outdoor patio seating, and an activities room was created where scrapbooking and crafting could take place.

An example of a single-dwelling room at the Legacy of Brownsdale which will soon begin welcoming residents.

“We want to keep them active,” she said. “We want to make the transition as easy for them as possible.”

It was important to have residents live active lifestyles, Burke said, sharing that residents would be taken to Minnesota Vikings and Minnesota Wild games at no cost, along with participating in recreational opportunities like goose hunting and fishing. Landscaping would be done by those living at the center during the spring just as if the gardens were their own. A shuttle bus is also planned to bring patients to their specific medical appointments on Tuesdays and Thursdays, as well as planned shopping days where residents can go out to different businesses nearby for additional activities.

The school’s former playground is planned to be replaced, Burke said, with newer equipment so that the town’s children could still run around and have access to it, while under the watchful eye of residents who enjoy seeing younger generations coming around to play.

With a bright future ahead, Burke was more than certain that Legacy of Brownsdale marks a new chapter for the town and for those who worked together to take a sad event and turned it into progress.

“Looking at this building that was at one time starting one’s life adventures and having this place built around that is still breathtaking,” she said. “It just seems appropriate.”