Baldwin school district requesting proposals for purchase, redevelopment of Chapel Street buildings
The Baldwin school district has seen increasing interest in its surplus properties on Chapel Street and it’s taking advantage of the interest by seeking proposals to buy the buildings.
Baldwin USD 348 Superintendent Paul Dorathy said a story last month in the Lawrence Journal-World about the district’s attempts to sell an old three-story school building and gymnasium on the 700 block of Chapel stimulated interest in the buildings and surrounding grounds.
With multiple parties interested, the school board is soliciting proposals for the purchase and redevelopment of the properties. Dorathy said letters requesting proposals would be sent to seven parties with an interest in the buildings.
School officials sent one of the letters to Kansas City, Mo., developer Tony Krsnich, who redeveloped the derelict east Lawrence Poehler Grocery Warehouse into a 49-unit apartment complex and the nearby Ciderworks Building into an art gallery and event space. The projects have helped to create an arts district.
Responses will be due Sept. 18. The board will consider replies at a special meeting at 6:30 p.m. Sept. 23 at the board office.
The three-story school building has drawn the most interest from potential buyers, Dorathy said. However, the board is requiring submitted proposals be for both the old school and gymnasium and suggested partial transfers would not be considered, he said.
Interested parties will be asked to submit:
• A bid price with a letter from a bank or financial institution confirming their ability to complete the transaction. The board’s goal is to close the sale by Dec. 31.
• A proposed use of the buildings with enough detail to demonstrate to the board its value to the community.
• A schedule for the sale’s completion and redevelopment of the buildings.
• A list of any conditions the bidder would place on the transaction.
• A disclosure of any conflicts of interest.
The responses would be open records according state statute, but financial disclosures will be kept confidential, Dorathy said.
As the list of requirements suggests, the board is interested in how and when bidders will reuse the buildings, Dorathy said.
“Obviously, money does make a difference,” he said. “But the board is also interested in what will happen to the buildings for the community and does not want to see them sit empty for a number of years. They want this to work well for the community.”
The Baldwin City Economic Development Committee had an open house Sept. 4 at the Ciderworks Building to give Baldwin City residents the opportunity to view Krsnich’s work.
Dorathy said Krsnich toured the two district buildings last month after the Journal-World story and was among those asked to submit proposals.
“This is a niche for him,” Dorathy said. “It’s impressive what he did there (in Lawrence).”
Krsnich said on Friday that he is interested in the buildings, but that he preferred not to reveal his plans for their reuse while other parties were formulating their responses.
His interest in the buildings has opened his eyes to Baldwin City, Krsnich said.
“I have to admit, I drove by Baldwin City all the time but never paid much attention,” he said. “I’ve learned to appreciate the community. Baker University is a special place. I’ve walked the campus four or five times. It’s really a beautiful campus with all the trees and buildings.”