The Columbus City Schools board waited until the last day to start bidding on the former Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow headquarters last week.
But having won the online auction, the board wants to move quickly to secure the property and make plans for future tenants. Alison Holm reports.
Last week the school district emerged from the online bidding war for the former ECOT headquarters as the new owners of the 26 and-a-half acre property on the South Side. A former strip mall, the 138-thousand square foot building holds a 450 seat auditorium, two unfinished performance spaces, three test kitchens, a print shop, and parking for 700 vehicles. The school board approved the measure on a 4-3 vote. Now the district has to decide what to do with the space.
Director of Capitol Improvements Alex Trevino warned the district needs to be “thoughtful and intentional” about what programs and divisions move into the property. The initial scenario would move the Hudson Distribution Center, the 17th Avenue Service Center, and the Linmoor Education Center into the former ECOT building. Trevino says that scenario gives the district a surplus.
“The potential net revenue from selling the Hudson and 17th Avenue sites is $6.15 million, leaving a net gain from that one scenario of $2.678 million. And then looking at the utility costs, the current costs for Hudson, 17th and Linmoor is currently just a touch over $361,000. And with the information we received from the seller’s broker, just under $240,000 as annual utility costs for the South High Street property; resulting in a net potential reduction to the general fund of $122,000.”
Acting superintendent John Stanford says a preliminary timeline for the property has been roughed out, starting with securing the building by moving some offices or departments into the space temporarily.
“The second phase would begin around September and go through December. That phase would take into consideration the recommendations from the Facilities Task Force. The third phase from December until April would be the development of the actual plan, and that draft would then be shared with the board in the springtime, after we’ve had time as part of the budget process to consider what the budgetary impact would be as well.”
In other real estate decisions, the board voted to postpone action on a proposal brought forward earlier this month by developer Frank Kass for the Arlington Gateway project, a $110 million dollar complex to be built on Lane Avenue in Upper Arlington. Kass asked the district to agree to a fixed, annual payment of $422,000 in lieu of property taxes. Although the deal was recommended by district treasurer Stan Bahorek and seemed warmly welcomed by the board, the financial advantages of the deal remain uncertain.