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St. Louis Public Schools steps up selling of vacant buildings

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, March 21, 2012 - After selling two vacant school buildings this month for non-educational purposes, the St. Louis Public Schools says it has four other properties under contract that are expected to close by the end of the summer.

One of those, Gardenville School, is set to be acquired for use as a charter school, a second location for the Gateway Science Academy, as reported earlier by the Beacon. The buyer, Concept Schools of Chicago, said it would be paying the asking price of nearly $1.2 million.

The two purchases completed this month are Garfield Elementary at 3200 Texas, which will be used for temporary housing and support services for the homeless, and Scruggs Elementary at 4611 South Grand, which will be developed as a monastery and used for a place of worship and related activities. Garfield sold for $600,000; Scruggs sold for $700,000.

Other properties under contract are Baden School, 8724 Halls Ferry, for development of a community center; Dunbar Branch, 3018 Brantener, for development as a community health center, and a joint contract on Mark Twain Elementary at 5316 Ruskin and Old Central High at 3616 N. Garrison for development of affordable housing.

A statement from the city schools said the sales “are consistent with the district’s practice of taking a comprehensive approach to promoting the redevelopment of closed school sites." It said selection of projects and proposals are guided by four principles:

  • Promote the well-being of the community and neighborhoods
  • Support the district’s educational mission
  • Promote the financial strength and integrity of the district
  • Return property to a taxable use

The sale of Gardenville is so far the only one that would be for reuse as a school.
More information on surplus district properties can be viewed here. Among those still available are the former Simmons, Hempstead, Stowe, Gundlach, Shepard, Lafayette, Marshall, Lyon, Windsor and Ford Branch.

Dale Singer began his career in professional journalism in 1969 by talking his way into a summer vacation replacement job at the now-defunct United Press International bureau in St. Louis; he later joined UPI full-time in 1972. Eight years later, he moved to the Post-Dispatch, where for the next 28-plus years he was a business reporter and editor, a Metro reporter specializing in education, assistant editor of the Editorial Page for 10 years and finally news editor of the newspaper's website. In September of 2008, he joined the staff of the Beacon, where he reported primarily on education. In addition to practicing journalism, Dale has been an adjunct professor at University College at Washington U. He and his wife live in west St. Louis County with their spoiled Bichon, Teddy. They have two adult daughters, who have followed them into the word business as a communications manager and a website editor, and three grandchildren. Dale reported for St. Louis Public Radio from 2013 to 2016.

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