After much discussion of what to do with the old El Dorado Middle School once the new middle school was completed, the USD 490 Board of Education received two different proposals Monday evening.
The first was a look at a presentation they first heard about a few months ago from Paige Ralston, senior account representative buildings business for Schneider Electric, on an option to renovate the building. When she first came before they board, they asked about the possibility of demolishing about half of the middle school building to make it more efficient and create room for parking.
David Pearlman, with BRR Architects, talked to the board about the ideas they had come up with after talking to school administrators and looking at the building.
“It was all in relationship of reducing the square footage to allow for some of those energy savings Paige talked about,” Pearlman said. “What we did after that meeting, we took what was gained with that, we walked through the building and started looking at existing structural requirements and where we could start making some cuts in the building. The auditorium was kind of the main focus of the project.”
He presented a proposed site plan after the demolition, which would take away more than half of the building on the back side, which would allow for 157 parking stalls and a new rear entrance to the building.
For the lower level, Pearlman said they would remove the gym space and leave some mechanical and electrical spaces, as well as some potential storage. What was left under the auditorium would remain.
On the first floor, they would demolish the back half including the gym and associated spaces off of that and a good portion of the east wing, taking that area back to where the restrooms are now located.
They would create a new stairway and elevator tower on the east side on the exterior of the building. In addition, the lunch room would be made into a community space, taking out the kitchen but leaving in an area for a catering kitchen.
“We’re planning to relocate some of the historical aspects throughout the building to a historical classroom space,” Pearlman said.
The second floor would include the auditorium and mezzanine space, with the existing band room as the proposed staging area. There would be space for the alternative school where the art room is now and the existing classrooms. The library would stay as the professional development library.
For the third floor, they would stay with classroom uses, ending up with perimeter classrooms, restroom space, mechanical and electrical, and the auditorium space.
The proposed savings on utilities each year would be $45,000, as well as the elimination of the lease for the alternative high school which is $25,000, plus those utilities. They estimated a total savings of $75,000 a year.
Page 2 of 2 - Over 15 years, the cost of the project, $6.2 million, would be around $600,000 a year minus the savings, for a net of $525,000 a year for capital improvement costs from the district.
If the school district decides to walk away at this point, they will have a cost of $3,900 to Schneider Electric. If they chose to move forward, there would be about a $90,000 commitment from the district to continue developing this project.
“It was a beautiful presentation Schneider gave, I just don’t see the funds available,” said BOE Member Leon Leachman.
BOE Member Deb Wheeler had other concerns with the proposal.
“Do we know that we are going to keep Extend for the next 15 years?” she asked. “I just think we need to take a look at what’s the best expenditure of our monies for taxpayers.”
In addition to this possible use of the building, the board also heard about a contract proposal for purchase of the building by Cohen-Esrey, a company out of Kansas City for $250,000.
They are proposing to use the facility to create low-income senior apartments.
This would be dependent upon them receiving housing and historic tax credits. The company must apply for those credits by Feb. 1, 2013.
“They have to be able, in their application, to show the ability to acquire the property,” said Norm Wilks, director of fiscal services. “They will need to do an independent market study and rental rates. They will do a preliminary plan for site and floor plans.”
They also have to do a survey of comparable properties and waiting lists. They are looking at creating somewhere between 42 and 50 apartment units. They also would not be able to remove or destroy the auditorium, keeping it available for public use. They would preserve the historic nature of the hallways, window sills and a lot of trim and doors into the classrooms.
Cohen-Esrey was formed in Kansas City in 1969, with the Affordable Partners piece added in about 1994. They now manage about 10,000 units spread out over 100 properties in 85 communities.
“This is not a new venture for them,” Wilks said.
They need an answer on the proposed contract by Nov. 30. The school board is asking for input from the public on this, seeking written comments through Nov. 27.