Bids opened for sale of Mulberry Street School
TOWANDA - Re-purposing a former school for medical offices and demolishing the building to make way for a nine-home subdivision are two possible uses for the site if one of two bids are accepted.
Towanda Area School District officials on Thursday opened the two bids for the Mulberry Street School in Towanda.
Crain Custom Built Homes of the Rome area submitted a $9,700 bid to purchase the Mulberry Street School, which is 15,358 square feet and sits on 2.53 acres.
Crain is proposing to demolish the school and construct nine single-family homes on the site, according to written information that Crain provided with its bid.
The homes would be 1,500 to 1,700 square feet and have three or more bedrooms.
The target sale price for the homes would be $150,000 to $180,000.
Kevin Tama of Towanda submitted a $41,500 bid for the school.
Tama submitted a letter to the school district with his bid which states that if his bid is accepted, he would first repair the exterior of the building.
"The structure is in need of repair to prevent further deterioration as well as resolve security issues," Tama wrote in his letter. "Windows, doors, roof, fascia, (and) rainwater management are a few of the immediate needs that would be addressed."
He said it would take 6 to 12 months to do the repairs, including investigation, planning, obtaining permits, and construction.
Initially he said he would use the building to store items that belong to his family.
As far as the long-term use of the building, "nothing is set in stone," he said in an interview.
However, he said that one possibility he is considering is to locate medical offices in the building, which he said would require an extensive renovation of the structure.
"The entire building would have to be retro-fitted," he said.
He said that he would need to obtain a special-use permit from the borough to locate the medical offices at the site.
He said he is not looking at other possible long-term uses for the building at this time. However, he said that he would not do anything that would require the property to be re-zoned.
"I don't want anything to be high traffic, in the same way I don't want anything to be high traffic in my back yard," he said.
The school district stopped using the school in 2006 and has been unsuccessful in trying to sell the school.
When the school district sought bids for the school in the past, either none were submitted or the school board rejected the bids as too low.
Most recently, Trehab Center Inc. had had an option to purchase the building for $175,000. Trehab was proposing to construct a 35-townhouse affordable-housing development at the site. However, Trehab's option ended after it was twice unable to secure funding from the Pennsylvania Housing Finance Authority for the project.
The Mulberry Street School property was appraised in 2009 at $175,000 by Frank Bertrand of Towanda and at $110,000 by Robert Benjamin of Wysox.
The Towanda School Board will now have 30 days to decide whether to accept one of the bids.
The school board is not obligated to accept either of the bids, school district Business Manager Doreen Secor said.
Secor and Superintendent Steven Gobble said they did not know if the school board would be obligated to accept the high bid, if the school board chose to accept a bid.
"That would be a question for the solicitor" of the school district, Secor said.
The school board will be meeting at 7 p.m. on Monday, and may decide at that time on whether to accept a bid, school board President Robert Fetterman said.
James Loewenstein can be reached at (570) 265-1633; or email: firstname.lastname@example.org.