Members of the South Lane School District Board of Directors voted unanimously May 6 to sell the old Harrison School property at 1000 S 10th St.
The board stipulated that the property would be sold only under the condition that the buyer completes demolition and abatement of the asbestos in the building.
“That was one of the things that was important for the district in order for the sale … to have that abated and demolished,” said superintendent Larry Sullivan. “It’s a fairly unhealthy building with all the asbestos and other things.”
The 6.84-acre property has also begun a rezoning process from R1 to R2, which will allow the property to accommodate a wider variety of housing types including duplexes and multifamily dwellings. Hopes are that this process will be completed in June.
The decision to sell the property came after months deliberating on the issue and exploring options. Two other options under consideration by the school board involved abating and demolishing the building to develop athletic fields, one scenario involving the rebuilding of the old gym.
Estimates, however, put the latter option at about $1.5 million, the cost of developing the athletic fields itself after abatement and demolition costing more than $800,000.
Two appraisals by analyzers Duncan & Brown and RE/MAX Advantage Plus of just the bare land have put the property at a value of $745,000 and $880,000, respectively, assuming the rezoning to R2 goes through.
With that in mind, the board determined that Cottage Grove High School and the new Harrison School properties still had enough field space and that bond dollars could be prioritized toward other projects such as deferred maintenance.
The school board is currently working with the Oregon School Board Association to receive guidance on the path ahead for the old Harrison School property and the City of Cottage Grove has showed interest in helping the school district manage.
In adopting a housing strategy earlier this year, the city committed to working with the local school district to look at surplus lands and how they can help the city meet its housing needs.
“One of the major things they were looking at was how the city can help the school district figure out what to do with this property,” said City Planner Amanda Ferguson, “and more specifically, how can we meet some of our housing needs with this property?”
Through the partnership, the school district was encouraged to continue with its plan to change the property zone to R2.
“It helped reassure them that the path of rezoning was a better option, that it wouldn’t hurt them financially and it would meet the stated needs that the community has,” said Ferguson. “I think it was a really great partnership.”
Providing an implementation plan passes committee approval, it will be brought before the City Council next month.