Tonawanda News

November 27, 2013

Voters approve Central School sale

Purchase passes in 180-78 vote to developer Hunt

By Jessica Bagley jessica.bagley@tonawanda-news.com
The Tonawanda News

Tonawanda News — City of Tonawanda voters approved the school district’s sale of Central School to Hunt and Associates LLC Tuesday in a 180-78 vote. 

The purchaser, Scott Hunt, owns the Kenmore Development Company and will now buy the building for $165,000 — much less than its initial listing price of $325,000. He plans to turn the structure into an apartment complex. 

“I think it is great for the community and the district,” Superintendent James Newton said Tuesday after the board certified the vote. “I think it will be a good location for new residents, with the building being near the river, and will be good for the neighborhood.”

Of the 258 votes tallied, 44 were absentees, Board Clerk Bonnie Jayne said. Forty-one absentee residents voted for the sale, while three voted no. 

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 was 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.

Contact reporter Jessica Bagley at 693-1000 ext. 4150, or follow her on Twitter @JessicaLBagley.