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Administration Building Sale Forum Questions and Responses

Questions Regarding the Sale of the School District 9-R Administration Building

1. I believe that 9R and DFPD has maybe not been legally or in the matter of zoning (could indeed be wrong here), obligated to go through a review process including public input and thus completely avoiding valuable ideas, conceptual ideas, vision, views concerns from neighbors, citizens and community members in general, people who fund all the entities involved. Why did you choose to not pursue such a process regardless of technical obligations? Where you convinced that you were better informed without public input? Are you able to see that you have a moral obligation to do this with compassion and integrity and deep responsibility as this affects the whole city for generations to come, many of whom will have a fire station right outside their bedroom windows.

9-R complied with all laws and regulations regarding the sale of the Administration building. We hired a brokerage firm with experience selling public buildings and, in particular, historic buildings to assist with this sale and followed their guidance. We operated with compassion and integrity in choosing to sell the Administration Building to the fire district. The sale secures needed funding for our students and schools while also providing the fire district an opportunity to build a much-needed modern facility to continue serving our community for generations to come. We believe they will be good and respectful neighbors. 

 

2. You have known of the potential of DFPD purchasing the 9R building for a long time, how long exactly?

The 9-R Board of Education first received the Letter of Intent to purchase the property from the fire district at our May 25th, 2021 meeting. At the same meeting we received three other letters of intent

 

3. Did you consider the impact by the DFPD on the activities in Buckley Park, small and large?

Yes, the board has always acted to protect Buckley Park and has been working with the City to ensure the City can purchase it and manage it as a public green space. We believe DFPD will be a good neighbor to the public park. 

 

4. Did you even once think: the neighbors and community will not like this? If yes, then you know now how we feel, and you should terminate the contract, and pay respect to the people who fund you.
If no, then you know now how we feel, and you should terminate the contract, and pay respect to the people who fund you.

There are hardly ever decisions that absolutely everyone agrees with and we feel strongly that the benefits of this sale will far outweigh the negatives. We trust that the DFPD will do their best to be good neighbors while also providing essential services to our community.

 

5. How does this proposed project contribute to the economic vitality of the downtown and to the many small independent businesses there?

Much like a police station or a library, the fire district must be located downtown and provides immense benefits to the community that are not measured economically. The fire district moving into the Administration building, however, will free up River City hall for economic development. If the City does choose to co-locate the police station with the fire station, the current 2nd Avenue police station property will also be freed up for development. The many employees of the fire station will be working downtown, shopping and eating at local businesses. Local businesses will also benefit from reduced insurance rates with a nearby fire station.

 

6. What effect will this project have on the midtown URA, in which both the City and 9R are partners?

While the sale to the fire district doesn’t bring in additional tax revenue for the URA, it does free up River City Hall and potentially the police department (both of which are included in the URA) for development that will generate revenue. 

 

7. How will this project affect the long-term use of Buckley Park, which has historically supported local events and downtown quality?

We are working hard to reach a deal with the City to ensure they can purchase and maintain Buckley as a public green space. 9-R has been leasing the park to the City, but ownership would allow them greater opportunities and flexibility to utilize the park in the best interest of the city and downtown.

 

8. Is there any chance at all that 9R will delay closing of this sale for another month to allow a greater public dialogue to occur, (beyond this "public information meeting"), as has been requested through public petition with over 700 signatures?

9-R intends to honor our contract which is in the best interest of our students and staff. Delaying the closing of the sale would potentially lead to substantial additional costs to the district. Note: The sale on this property closed on December 17th, 2021.

 

9. What is the explanation 9R chose to keep the City of Durango totally unaware of and have no communications with the City about the proposed sale of the property to DFPD to build a central fire station on the 9R property?

The brokerage firm we hired to assist us with this sale was chosen in part due to their experience selling public buildings and, in particular, historic buildings. We were unable to share the details of purchase proposals due to agreements made as part of the sale process, which is standard in real estate transactions of this nature. We did hold a public meeting, which included public participation, regarding the sale on June 28, 2021. 

 

10.  What is the next best use of this property?

We’re unclear on the meaning of this question, as it seems very subjective. If you are asking about other offers on the building, they are summarized below.

Out of State Developer $6.1 million- Proposal was for multi-use vision including housing and commercial space.  

Fire District - $5 million in cash and $1.943 million with in kind services.  Proposal would use parcel for new fire station and administrative building.

Local Citizen $4.5 million - Vision was to open a low cost day care and private preschool (most likely in the Big Picture building) as well as to integrate elderly care and a technology incubator.    

Two local citizens and an out of state developer (3 parties in total) $4 million -  The intent by this seller as referred to in the letter is to create residential units on the 2nd and 3rd floors, with 50% of those units dedicated to deed restricted permanent affordable housing for teachers. The Board requested further information about the number of units that this would encompass and what the income levels for the deed restriction would be. Their response to the broker was they weren't comfortable sharing renderings prior to city approval. They did not provide a response regarding the income level. 

All parties were provided with information from the District's real estate brokers that included a $10 million dollar figure including Buckley Park and the 3rd party appraisal of Buckley Park which valued the park alone at $3.47 million.  

 

11. What historical preservations are on the Old High School building now and into the future?

9-R agreed to the following in February 2005 upon receipt of grant funds from the Historical Society for window and maintenance restoration in the building:

For a period of 20 years (effective through February 2025):

1) No construction, alteration, movement, relocation or remodeling or any other activity shall be undertaken or permitted to be undertaken on the property (Admin building only) which would alter the architectural appearance of the property, adversely affect the structural soundness of the property or encroach on the open land area on the property, provided, however, that the reconstruction, repair or restoration of the property, damage to which has resulted from casualty loss, deterioration, or wear and tear, shall be permitted subject to the prior written approval of the society and provided that such reconstruction, repair or restoration is performed according to the Secretary of the Interior's Standards for the Treatment of Historic Properties and the Guidelines for Preserving, Rehabilitating, Restoring, and Reconstructing Historic Buildings, issued and as may from time to time be amended by the U.S Secretary of the Interior.  

This does NOT pertain to the Big Picture building, boiler building in the back, parking lot to the side of the building or Buckley Park.

After 2025 is the requirements become guidelines instead of requirements. The building will still be on the national registry as well as the state registry. DFPD plans to complete work before 2025 as they are a governmental entity which must reduce debt service as much as possible, precipitating a quick renovation so they can move into the new building. Also, they plan to apply for historic preservation grants to assist with renovation. The 20-year extension happens when these grants are approved.

 

12. The City of Durango and School District 9-R are party to the Urban Renewal Authority and has representation on the URA Board. All five city councilors have a seat on that board. The URA midtown plan names the 9-R Admin. Bldg. in the plan and states, “A large increment is possible from 9-R Administration building change of ownership and use.” In its 2021 Strategic Plan, the City identifies as one of its goals, “Work closely with 9R and Private Developer to redevelop the 9R Admin Property.” What outreach did the School District make to the City to attempt to work with the city to develop the building to benefit the URA and our downtown re-development and economic vitality? How do you anticipate the sale of the 9R Admin. Bldg. to the DFPD will accomplish this important community goal of improving affordability and economic opportunity?

Durango 9-R has been very public over the last 2 years about our plans to sell the Administration Building property. The City is always welcome to engage with us. There was an assumption by many that the building would sell to a private developer. We did not anticipate the offer from the fire district prior to receiving it. 9-R also assumed that the City would work with the developer once the sale was completed. They now have that opportunity to work with the fire district, the chosen developer. 

While we are a part of the URA and share the goals, enhancing the tax revenue is not our only priority. We also want to receive fair market value for our students and ensure the future of the property continues to serve our community. Fire districts are critical to downtown areas and yet will never generate tax revenue.

We hired a brokerage firm to assist us with this sale especially because of their experience selling public buildings and, in particular, historic buildings. We were unable to share the details of purchase proposals due to agreements made as part of the sale process, which is standard in real estate transactions of this nature. 

The fire district moving into the Administration building will free up River City hall for economic development as well as the police station on 2nd Avenue if the City does choose to move the police there. In addition to freeing up those two properties for development, the employees will be working downtown, shopping and eating at local businesses. Moreover, 9-R is working on large collaborative regional efforts to address the very serious issue of affordable housing in our community. A handful of units in the Administration building is not a solution on the scale we really need. 

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