Prescott Unified Schools: District office is next property set for sale; escrow closes March 20

Washington Traditional School closed in May 2015. It currently is home to Prescott Unified School District’s preschool, Discovery Gardens. The district offices may locate in the building’s second floor.

Photo by Les Stukenberg.

Washington Traditional School closed in May 2015. It currently is home to Prescott Unified School District’s preschool, Discovery Gardens. The district offices may locate in the building’s second floor.

The downtown Prescott Unified School District office building is expected to be officially sold to a Phoenix developer on March 20.

This will be the second of three school properties slated to be purchased by Ironline Partners LLC. On Jan. 25, Ironline bought the former Dexter Elementary for $1 million. It is currently leased to Northpoint Expeditionary Learning Academy.

The closing for the district offices located on North Granite Street is scheduled for March 20. The price will remain confidential until the closing is complete. The district Governing Board intends to relocate the administrative offices to the second floor of the former Washington Traditional School that is now home to the Discovery Gardens pre-school program.

The sale of the third property, the former Miller Valley Elementary School on the corner of Miller Valley and Iron Springs roads, is not likely to occur until August.

PUSD Superintendent Joe Howard said he is pleased with the process, recognizing real estate deals can be delicate and sometimes difficult contract negotiations. So far, the district has been able to sell the most difficult property first, and he has high hopes that the other two sales will occur without any hiccups.

“I’m very encouraged,” Howard said.

The Governing Board and the buyers initially hoped all three buildings could be sold by early February, but both parties have required additional time to assure that they were getting the best deal.

Howard has been authorized by the board to negotiate with the buyers, and he said he has confidence that these efforts will prove beneficial to the buyers, the district and the community.

As for how the money from these properties will be spent, Howard explained that a portion of the sale of Dexter, between $500,000 and $700,000, will likely be needed to retrofit Washington Traditional to accommodate the district offices.

Howard has assured the board he will be frugal, but still make certain the historic building retains its character.

Once the other two properties are sold, Howard said it might be time for the board and the community to begin a broader conversation about the status of all the district facilities and what might be possible in the future, including a new, state-of-the art high school.

“We’re open to that dialogue,” he said.

The board’s real estate broker Donald Teel of Commercial Properties of Arizona has boasted that Ironline’s partners are committed to arranging development suited to this community.

With the purchase of the former Dexter School, Ironline opted to extend the district’s lease with Northpoint Expeditionary Academy, recognizing the charter school’s value in the community.

By state law, Howard said the proceeds of building sales can be used only for capital, or one-time major expenses. For this district, Howard has continually stated the goal is to invest in what will make the most difference for students, be it facilities, technology or modern curriculum.

“We need to put that money into our classrooms,” Howard has repeatedly stated.