School officials have struck a deal to buy the former Crowley dealership on Pine Street for $2.1 million, insiders said Friday.
The price matches the higher of the two independent appraisals done for the city as part of the negotiations to purchase the property for one of the two 900-student schools that were given preliminary approval last year.
The deal also means that the Starlite Market and three Daley Street homes won’t be needed for the project, officials said, eliminating the possibility that the city would take them through eminent domain.
“That would be fantastic,” said Richard Morgan, a Daley Street homeowner who didn’t want to move out.
While the Forestville school site appears to be largely set, a deal for the Barlow Street sand pit eyed for the other school has proven more elusive.
Though appraisers set the value of the land at $1.5 million, Scalia Construction is asking for $3.5 million for the property, according to two sources said Friday.
That almost certainly means that the city has to seek to seize the land through eminent domain unless it opts to find another site, officials said.
The Press learned details of the negotiations from two confidential sources Friday.
Mayor Art Ward said he couldn’t confirm the numbers.
“I haven’t seen any documents. There’s different rumors floating around,” Ward said.
“My understanding is that negotiations are proceeding very well” on the Crowley property, the mayor said. “A deal looks pretty imminent,” Ward added.
He said he didn’t know for sure how much Crowley might get from the city.
As for the Scalia site, Ward said, “They’re not in agreement at that price.”
Ward said he is interested in exploring the possibility of building the west Bristol school on the former Roberts property instead, which the city already owns. It might take special legislation from the state to make it feasible.
He said he wants to explore the Roberts property alternative before turning to eminent domain to take the Scalia site.
Officials said they’re hoping for a much more solid picture of what will happen when the City Council and school building committee members meet Monday.
“We’re coming to a time when we need to make a decision” on whether to build the new schools, remodel older ones or keep the status quo, Ward said.
He said he would like an analysis from the Board of Education of the cost of building new ones compared to renovating older ones – a study that hasn’t been done in nearly a decade.
Still, the mayor said, with luck “we can come to some resolve” at Monday’s meeting.
The Board of Education hopes to build the two schools for students ranging from kindergarten to eighth grade.
They would replace Memorial Boulevard Middle School and three aging primary schools O’Connell, Greene-Hills and Bingham.
The project has to be underway by June 13, 2010 or it won’t be eligible for state aid. The state has agreed to pay 73.9 percent of the project’s tab.
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