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5:17 PM Sat, Nov. 17th

Potential buyer of PUSD’s former South Granite district offices has until Aug. 30 to make a deal

The former Prescott Unified School District office on South Granite Street (Courier, file)

The former Prescott Unified School District office on South Granite Street (Courier, file)

With the start of a new school year three days away, Prescott Unified School District leaders have their fingers crossed that the sale of the former district offices is about to be final at the end of August.

If all goes well, this real estate transaction will be the close of the community’s decision three years ago to sell off three district properties no longer deemed necessary for instruction. The plan at the time was to downsize and reorganize the district and utilize any assets from the properties to enhance existing facilities, and add one-time programs and curriculum, to benefit the district’s almost 4,000 students.

Two of the three properties — the historic Miller Valley Elementary on Iron Springs Road was razed this spring for future development and the former Dexter Elementary is now leased to Northpoint Expeditionary Learning Academy — sold a year ago to Ironline Partners in Phoenix. The sales of those two properties netted the district $4.8 million.

Those dollars can be used for one-time major expenses. The Governing Board has yet to make a decision on use of those funds that are held separately from the district’s maintenance and operations accounts.

The former district office building is located in the heart of the downtown business zone. But its vintage that dates back to the 1930s and vicinity to Granite Creek have created prospective development issues rooted in city building codes that has doomed three other attempts to buy the property.

District employees moved out of the off-white, L-shaped building that borders Goodwin Street in May and into the renovated Washington School.

The century-old elementary school is now also home to the Discovery Gardens preschool program, the Family Resource Center, and the Prescott Unified Education Foundation office.

The latest potential buyer, whose identity is to remain anonymous until a final deal is reached, is now utilizing their second, and final, extension period. The first extension was scheduled to expire on Aug. 10; the new closing date is Aug. 30. All details, including proposed purchase price, will remain confidential until a contract is signed, sealed and delivered.

Chief Financial Officer Brian Moore said the extension options come with undisclosed fees to be paid by the prospective buyers. Again, those costs will be publicly revealed once the building is under new ownership.

The fact the buyers have not walked away seems to be a positive sign, school leaders said. If the second extension does not lead to a final sales contract, however, the property will go back on the market.

Superintendent Joe Howard has made it clear he wants to wrap up the district’s real estate business so as to better concentrate, and leverage the sales assets, on his area of expertise: the education of this community’s children.

This latest decision by the buyers, at least, “means they’re still interested,” Moore concluded.