By Josh LaBella
In a special meeting last week, the City Council approved the sale of the Thompson and Stiles schools, as well as the Blake building, to Park Lane Group for a total of $875,000.
The developer aims to convert the Blake building into 27 units of 1 bedroom or studio apartments for people ages 55 and over. The Stiles and Thompson Schools will be converted as well for a total of 75 units for the same demographic.
The school buildings went out to bid late last year. The highest bidder, KCG Development LLC, recently withdrew their bid to purchase the two schools for $852,000 when tax credits fell through.
Stiles and Thompson were sold together for $450,000. They have been out of use since 2004 and 2010, respectively. The Blake building was sold for $425,000 and was most recently used by the Board of Education for their administration.
Ted Lazarus of the Park Lane Group said the current plan is to build senior housing in the buildings but he would change that if the city wanted something else. Lazarus said all the projects Park Lane has done so far are “energy independent” with solar panels and geothermal heating and cooling. He added that the “carbon footprint is basically zero.”
Lazarus said it will be easy to do three buildings “in parallel” but added the Blake building is in better shape and will have lower up-front costs.
Councilman Peter Massaro said it was a “big plus” to not only to get the buildings on the tax rolls but also to transfer the upkeep responsibilities away from the city.
Council Chairman Ron Quagliani pointed out that the city has previously sold buildings for significantly under their value and he was happy to see them sold at a fair price to a developer who wanted to make them “vibrant again.”
When asked by Councilman Aaron Charney where the money from the sales would go, Corporation Counsel Lee Tiernan said the Municipal Accountability Review Board would most likely want to see it spent on debt reeducation, opposed to going into the general fund.
Tiernan also said, due to the three buildings being classified as historic, the developer plans to have 30 percent of hard construction costs covered by state and federal tax credits and grants aimed at rehabilitating historic buildings.
The council unanimously approved the three sales.