The proposed sale of the shuttered McKinley Elementary
School took another step forward on Monday night.
In a rare joint meeting hosted by the school district at Garfield Elementary School, city officials discussed buying the school for $100 from the district.
There's a little more to it than that.
The property and building would be abated, demolished and developed for use.
Neither the school district nor Lakewood City Council has made a final decision, but it would appear that both are leaning toward an agreement.
School board president Ed Favre said that McKinley Elementary School has “no remaining educational value,” but he added that the property continues to cost the district money.
"It is (the board's) desire that this property be developed to enhance Lakewood’s home values, continue to stabilize and increase Lakewood’s population, generate revenue for the City and the Schools, and thereby give some assistance to the rest of the good taxpaying citizens of Lakewood," he said.
School officials had previously described the deals as a “win-win” situation."
The transaction would free the district from the responsibility of finding a buyer – allowing it to focus on its mission of education - and give the city a prime piece of property to help meet its economic development goals.
School board vice president Linda Beebe said that the new development would also benefit the district in the form of a new tax base.
“We’re hoping that by putting it in the city’s hands it will benefit the community.”
The abandoned school sits on a 2.77-acre parcel in an area believed to be desirable to developers.
The property was assessed at $1.1 million in November of 2012. It costs approximately $40,000 a year to maintain and reopening the building was estimated to cost between $380,000 to 1.2 million.
Proceeds of any sale of the property by the city would be returned to the district. The deal also calls for the District to contribute one-third of the cost to demolish the former school building, which sits on nearly three acres of land at 1381 West Clifton Boulevard, that would be returned to the school district after a sale is made.
“This is so clearly in the wheelhouse of the city,” said board member Tom Einhouse, who is the former chairman of the city’s planning commission. “It makes total sense to me.”
Mary Louise Madigan, ward 4 councilwoman, said she supports the proposal, but added that there will be additional discussion in meetings, open to the public.
"Our job as Council is to consider the resolution and determine that it is legal; that it makes sense for the taxpayers and that the potential outcome is good for the citizens of Lakewood," she said.
"The administration is willing to accept the obligations under the agreement and bear the risks."
In January, the school board began discussing the possibility of selling the shuttered school, built in 1918.
The abandoned school was previously offered to charter schools, a required step in the process. When no bids came in, the Lakewood Board of Education approved moving the vacant property to the market.
The proposed purchase agreement also requires that the property be used primarily for residential purposes and that no tax abatements or tax deferrals may be offered.
“This will be a challenging project, but we’re ready for it,” said Dru Siley, the city’s director of planning and development, adding that the city could also “tailor” the zoning to meet an appropriate use. “The market is very favorable right now in Lakewood.”