Tonawanda News — A referendum in the form of a city-wide vote has been scheduled, where voters will decide whether to approve the sale of the City of Tonawanda's Central School building.
The proposed purchaser of Central School, Scott Hunt, owns the Kenmore Development company and plans to turn the building into an apartment complex, Superintendent James Newton said.
The sale is up for a referendum Nov. 26. Residents will be able to vote at the Wellness Gym at Tonawanda High School from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Hunt and Associates LLC proposed to buy the building, located at 80 Clinton St., for $165,000. The contract with Hunt and Associates, which the board approved in September, includes a free three-year storage deal for the district. Kenmore Development manages apartment buildings in Buffalo, Kenmore, the Town of Tonawanda, Niagara Falls, as well as the Riverview Manor Apartments in the City of Tonawanda.
Kenmore Development offers studio, one- and two-bedroom apartments, the company's website states.
The board's approval of the purchase came after a previous sale fell through. David Capretto, of Forbes Capretto Homes, was set to purchase the structure for $220,000, and residents approved the sale in May. Capretto said he planned to turn the school into an apartment building as well, but withdrew the offer in June.
“He was hoping to obtain historical credits that would have helped with the cost of the project,” former Director of Business and Financial Services Stephen Perry said at the time. “But state inspectors said too many changes had been made to the building and they denied the assistance.”
The school has not been used as a full-time education facility for more than a decade, but has housed district documents, a teacher training center and the Historical Society of the Tonawandas’ archives.
Some residents had been lobbying the city to purchase the building and turn it into a community center, but board officials opted for an option that would result in tax revenue. City officials said twice that they were not interested in the property, board members said.
The upkeep of the property is currently costing the board approximately $1,000 per month.
The board began discussing the sale of the 34,720-square-foot building in October 2012, and listed the school at the beginning of January for $325,000.
Last spring, the district sold another former school, Highland elementary, to S. Spoth, LLC in an auction for substantially less than its original listing price of $440,000. People Inc. planned to use the building for apartments, but the plans have yet to be approved and finalized, and the large school still sits vacant.