The fate of the old Wellington Junior High building, 311 N. A, is once again uncertain. A deal that was in place to turn the facility into a multi-family, affordable living, apartment complex has fallen through.
"The proposed purchase from Garrison Community Development in Kansas City did not complete," said USD 353 Superintendent, Rick Weiss during the June 13 Board of Education Meeting. "They were not able to get enough points to get their housing tax credits, therefore they will not be able to purchase the building this year." Weiss informed the BOE that GCD hoped to continue their efforts next year.
"In the mean time, with that not developing, there's been some other developments," Weiss said. "[There are other interested parities] With the intent to purchase the building, then demolish and salvage, and sell the various parts of the building that they can make money from. There has been a bid submitted on that." The Board made it clear that new bids for the facility were no solicited.
"Our last proposal was to turn it into apartments, which would help the community," said BOE President, Jackie Berryman. "...That was a win-win situation." A short discussion ensued on how the bid should be handled, whether the envelope should even be opened, and if there could be any action taken, since bids were not solicited.
Berryman did end up opening the bid, but did not to release the amount, and the Board did not act on it because it was unsolicited, and there has been no public input.
It is unclear what the next move from the BOE will be, as the discussion quickly ended.
Garrison Community Development's offer on the building was $150,000, submitted in Jan. 2013. They appeared to be the last in a long line of suitors for the old junior high, a line that stretches back for over half a decade. The next company, that submitted the unsolicited bid, will have to get back in line before the Board will decide their next move.
It will take a lot of work and money to transform the building into anything useful, but the structure is ideal for apartment complex, or hotel developers.
"Our interest is to sell it, but not necessarily sell it to be torn down," Berryman said. "I guess we don't have any control once we sell it, but knowing that up front makes it kind of tough."
Old Junior High timeline – 2010 to present
The Wellington Rec Commission had an interest in moving into the old junior high building, but wasn't in a position to purchase the facility from the district. Former WRC Superintendent, William Weber said it would take a joint effort from the WRC, the City of Wellington and USD 353 to see that plan through. Weber stated to the BOE that he estimated WRC's utility cost after moving into the building would have been around $30,000 to $40,000 a year. At the same meeting in January, USD 353 Superintendent, Rick Weiss told the board about a phone call from Cohen-Esrey Affordable Partners, a LLC, a Kansas City-based developer specializing in affordable workforce and senior rental housing. The ballpark offer presented to Weiss via a phone was between $200,000 and $250,000.
Page 2 of 2 - Feb. 2010
At the Board of Education meeting the choice was made to explore the direction of selling the old middle school property to Cohen-Esrey Affordable Partners.
The offer presented to the school district was $250,000 for the purchase of the property. In total the developer's project would have cost $7.5 million. $5.5 million of that was slated for construction costs.
In a memo to the district from Jeff Beckham, Cohen-Esrey Development partner, earlier that week, a "good portion" of the $5.5 million would go back into the community through the purchase of materials and local sub-contracting.
Cohen-Esrey, a Kansas City-based developer specializing in "affordable workforce and senior rental housing." They planed on using a $7 million tax credit equity for the development.
After hearing the potential price tag, and knowing how much the money could help the current owner – USD 353, the Wellington Rec Commission decided to take its hat out of the ring for the old junior high.
"Cohen-Esrey offered them $250,000," William Weber said, former WRC Superintendent. "We didn't want to scar their offer by trying to pursue it, to get them [USD 353] to give us a lesser deal or give it to us for free when they're in such need from financial cut backs."
After the deal with Cohen-Esrey fell through in the late stages, Garrison Community Development from Kansas City approached the BOE about buying the old junior high. Once the casino ended up going to exit 33 in Mulvane, Garrison backed out.
Garrison Community Development puts an offer of $150,000 on the table for the BOE to consider. The Board passes a motion to negotiate and sell the building.
It is reviled that GCD will turn the building into a multi-family apartment complex. The City of Wellington City Council passed a resolution as a vote of confidence for the developers as they attempt to obtain tax credits.
The City Council rezoned the property from R‐1 Single Family to R‐3 Multiple Family. The GCD renovation of the junior high was to cost around $8 million.
Garrison Community Development informs USD 353 that they did not receive the tax credits, and their purchase of the building is not complete. At the same Board of Education Meeting, an unsolicited bid was received from an unnamed entity who wished to purchase, demolish, and sell any materials of the building that were of value. How much the bid was for was not stated, the BOE did not act on the bid.