Originally Published: May 15, 2018 6:03 a.m.
This is something of a repeat story, but Prescott Unified School District appears to have a buyer for the former district offices on South Granite Street.
The off-white, rambling structure that dates back to the 1930s has been on the market for two years. The district’s Governing Board has entertained at least three other offers that all collapsed before the deal was done. On Friday, the board revised a contract with another prospective buyer with the hopes that this will be the final deal.
In 2015, the Prescott community voted to sell off three of the district’s properties — the former Dexter school that is now home to Northpoint Expeditionary Learning Academy, the former Miller Valley Elementary School and the district offices. Two of the properties — the former Dexter and Miller Valley schools — were sold last year to Ironline Partners in Phoenix for a combined price of $4.8 million. Miller Valley was razed this past spring to make way for future development.
A fourth property, the Washington School on Gurley Street, was closed as a century-old elementary school in the spring of 2015 but was not to be sold. The red-brick property is now home to both the district’s Discovery Gardens preschool program, the Family Resource Center, formerly at Taylor Hicks Elementary School, and the central administration offices.
The Governing Board vote on Friday keeps details of the deal, including the buyer’s identity, the price and prospective use, closed until the final closing scheduled for June 18.
Superintendent Joe Howard said the prospective buyer has spent considerable time and investment in determining the value for the property, and he said he has high hopes that this deal will be finalized.
“I think we’re really close; of course, but I’ve said that before,” Howard said on Monday.
The real estate process has proved far more complex, and lengthier, than Howard anticipated at the start of the process, but he has continually said the board is working to do what the community asked while obtaining the best sale price as those dollars will be reinvested in district facilities.
Once the property does sell, Howard said the proceeds we will be put with the other building sale proceeds. By law, those dollars can only be used for one-time capital expenses.
As with past boards that have diligently watched over district funds, Howard said he expects this board to be frugal with those dollars, protecting them for any emergency building needs that might arise or toward any future building projects that may be required in the future.
Once all these properties are sold, Howard said it may be that the board and community opt to begin looking at the district’s future needs, including how the city might afford a more modern high school.
There is no time frame for those conversations, but Howard said the district always needs to be strategizing about how it meets the needs of its students for not only today but tomorrow.
In the meantime, Howard assured that the community can be certain the board will continue to be “thoughtful with that money.”
Follow Nanci Hutson on Twitter @HutsonNanci. Reach her at 928-445-3333 ext. 2041.