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June 11, 2014

District mulls building sale options

NEW CASTLE — The New Castle school district is considering selling its three recently closed buildings through a sealed bid process.

District solicitor Charles Sapienza presented options for selling the properties to the board Monday. Discussions were during a public meeting of the finance committee.

The board is expected to call a special meeting this month to vote on which option it will choose, and he said he believes advertising for sealed bids is the route the members will take.

The John F. Kennedy, West Side and Thaddeus Stevens primary centers permanently closed at the end of the last school day Thursday, and the district has obtained appraisals of the three properties with the intent to sell them.

When classes start in the fall, all first- and second-grade students will attend the newly renovated Harry W. Lockley Early Learning Center and all third-graders will go to George Washington Intermediate Elementary School.

According to Sapienza, the state school code provides three options to sell properties and a district can choose one, two or three of them.

One option is public auction, either at the site or where the district deems it appropriate. An auction must be properly advertised, he said.

A second option is to advertise for sealed bids, which must be received within a certain time limit set by the district.

The third option is a private sale. The district would have to file a petition in court requesting to sell the property to a private individual or entity. The district must have two people who are familiar with real estate to attest that the proposed sale is the most money the district could get for the property. The sale must be approved by a common pleas judge.

The members generally agreed that advertising for bids would be the first choice, “to see what that brings,” Sapienza said, adding the board can place terms and conditions on a sale, such as restricting the use of the property.

The prospective buyer or buyers also will want to consider the zoning of the three locations, superintendent John J. Sarandrea pointed out.

The John F. Kennedy school sits on 1.8 acres at Laurel Boulevard and Highland Avenue, and its gross building area is 40,030 square feet. It was built in 1962 and is partly in an R-1 residential zone and partly in an R-2 zone abutting Highland Avenue. It has been appraised at $150,000.

Thaddeus Stevens school, which also was built in 1962, is 40,360 square feet and sits on four acres on Harrison Street. It is in an R-2 zone, and abuts East Washington Street, which is a commercial zone. Its appraised value is $120,000.

West Side School, which sits on 1.6 acres, has 37,060 square feet and was built in 1960. It was appraised at $120,000. That building, on West Washington Street, is entirely within a C-1 commercial zone, Sarandrea said.

(Email: dwachter@ncnewsonline.com)

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