By Jessica Bagley
The Tonawanda News
CITY OF TONAWANDA — The City of Tonawanda school board heard two presentations from realtors vying for the chance to sell Central School Tuesday night at the body’s regular meeting.
The Clinton Street school hasn’t been used as a full-time educational facility in over a decade and has recently housed a teachers’ center, the district’s archives and The Historical Society of the Tonawandas.
Those groups, in addition to computers and furniture stored in the building, will be moved out by Jan. 1, according to Director of Facilities Paul Maziarz.
The board is currently in the process of choosing a realtor to sell the property and get it off the district’s hands.
MJ Peterson realtor Robert A. Liebeck and Hunt Commercial Real Estate representative David W. Supon presented their proposals to the board Tuesday.
Liebeck stressed his 35 years of experience, which includes the sale of a school in the Ken-Ton district, as well as a school owned by the Buffalo Catholic Diocese.
Liebeck was realistic about the property’s chances and did mention a few concerns he has about the building, namely that it may be too small for a developer to “get excited about it.”
Liebeck said it is much easier to get federal funding for low-income and senior housing when the facility is closer to 100,000 square feet. In comparison, Central School is around less than 30,000 square feet.
“There are buyers out there,” Liebeck said. “But it won’t sell for the assessed value.”
Liebeck didn’t discuss a specific listing price, but Supon advised the board list Central for around the same price Highland Elementary is currently listed at by a private owner — around $325,000 — and said the properties are likely very similar.
“We can discuss exactly what figure you want it listed as,” Supon said. “But I wouldn’t want to set it too high off the bat with the difficult market of schools and churches right now.”
Supon, who said he has not yet sold a school, also spoke to Hunt’s long history in the area and the company’s ability to market to brokers all over the state and eastern region of the country.
Tuesday’s presentations came after Ed Woods, of Realty USA, came to the board’s meeting Oct. 9 to answer questions about the sale of the property.
Realty USA represented the school district in the listing of Highland, which eventually went to auction and sold for $152,000, much less than its original list price of $440,000. Highland still sits vacant after its sale to S. Spoth, LLC in 2011.
S. Spoth, LLC put the property back up for sale over the summer after People Inc.’s plan to
develop it into a senior housing facility fell through due to a lack of funding at the federal level, according to the nonprofit.
Board members called the Highland sale a failure at last month’s meeting and questioned the logic of hiring the same realty company a second time around. Board member Sharon Stuart requested new realtor proposals.
“Would you ask a realtor to sell your house if he failed the last time?” Stuart asked at the October meeting.
Stuart made a motion Tuesday to table an agenda item approving a realtor for the sale of the school so the members can discuss the three proposals further.
Contact reporter Jessica Bagley at 693-1000, ext. 4150.