UPDATE: Developer buying former Dubuque school, plans apartments


A local development company is buying the former St. Anthony Elementary School building and adjacent green space in Dubuque, with plans to construct apartments on the site.

The Rev. Steven Rosonke, pastor of St. Anthony Catholic Church, said parish council members recently approved the sale of the Steinmetz Building, 2175 Rosedale Ave., and nearby green space to Dubuque-based GT Development for $725,000. The sale is scheduled to be completed by Jan. 31.

The 1.4-acre lot and 26,000-square-foot building were put up for sale in August, listed together at a price of $905,000. The building previously housed St. Anthony Elementary School’s English-based program, which ceased operations at the end of the 2019-2020 school year.

Tom Kelzer, co-owner of GT Development, said the company plans to renovate the building to create market-rate apartments and subsequently construct an additional apartment building on the green space.

“It’ll be somewhat of a phased approach where we work on the school building first, … but for the whole site, it is our intention to do multi-family housing,” he said.

He said the school eventually could house 21 to 24 apartments, which would be mainly two-bedroom units with the potential for several three-bedroom apartments, as well.

Rosonke said the sale also includes one row of parking immediately west of the school building, but the parish will retain the rest of the parking lot for parishioners’ use.

“It’ll be a good use for the school building, and it’ll be a benefit to the parish, too, to have an apartment building here for people if they want to live close to the church,” Rosonke said. “It’s never a good idea to leave buildings empty because even empty, they cost a lot of money between things like heating, sewage and electricity.”

The sale is contingent on GT Development receiving City of Dubuque approval to rezone the property from its current institutional zoning to office residential, suitable for apartment buildings. Kelzer said GT Development officials plan to submit a rezoning application to the city in the coming days.

The purchase also is contingent on city approval of closing part of an alley north of the school building and transferring ownership of that section of the alley between the school building and baseball field to GT Development. This would make the purchase one contiguous parcel of land.

Kelzer said GT Development does not seek to close the entire alley, which also serves as the driveway and egress point for several residences along Clarke Drive. He said those homeowners still would be able to use the alley to exit onto North Grandview Avenue.

“(The closure) would be at the end of the last residence and heading west through the St. Anthony parking lot, so it would just be a portion of the alley that abuts these properties,” he said. “They have garages and off-street parking back there, and that would not be impacted.”

A letter sent to St. Anthony parishioners today stated that if the closure is approved, parishioners could exit the parking lot onto St. Ambrose Street but would not be able to use the alley to exit the parking lot onto North Grandview.

Rosonke said the parish will use the money from the sale for any future action to be taken with the Stemm Building, 2160 Rosedale Ave. The now-vacant building formerly housed Our Lady of Guadalupe Spanish Immersion Program, which moved in fall 2021 to Holy Family Central Campus, 2005 Kane St.

Rosonke said “no specific plans” have been made yet for the Stemm Building, which is physically connected to and shares utilities with the church.

Kelzer said GT Development aims to begin construction on the project in February or March. The process of converting the school into apartments would involve mainly interior renovation, and officials do not intend to tear down “any portion of the building.”

“It’s just a great central location, and there’s a need for the market-rate apartments,” he said, noting that city officials and local economic leaders repeatedly have touted the need for more housing. “I think it’s great to take a building that might otherwise sit empty and create a new use for it.”