BATH — With the E.L. Huse Memorial School soon to be vacant, a City Council subcommittee this month is expected to explore options for the building’s reuse.
The Economic Development Committee also plans to look into establishing policy for disposing of city-owned properties.
The 39 Andrews Road building, built in 1941 with an addition in 1949, has more than 33,000 square feet. It was recently occupied by the Regional School Unit 1 central office, which later moved its offices to the nearby Small School in April 2010.
The move allowed the students and staff of Woolwich Central School to attend classes in the building while their own school was being largely rebuilt. And with that school soon to reopen, and the central office having moved earlier this year to the Wing Farm Business Park, the Huse School is about to become unoccupied.
The building, in Bath’s Commercial 2 zone, has remained in the city’s possession, and the council discussed options for its fate Wednesday evening.
Planning Director Andrew Deci noted in a July 19 memo that the facility’s size and layout are ideal for use by one or more nonresidential tenants, and that it could also be made into a multi-family residential property, although that would require layout and infrastructure changes.
He pointed out that even though the building has been regularly maintained, a significant roof improvement project is expected to be required by 2015, and would cost about $196,000. Added accessibility should be provided to lawfully offer space for lease, he mentioned, and environmental asbestos remediation would need to continue in the basement if the building is occupied.
Initial “mothballing” of the building could cost $15,000, if it were neither reused nor demolished, Deci said.
If the building is leased, there would be initial costs, continuing maintenance costs and tenant solicitation and management, and the risk of vacancy and loss of revenue, he said.
If the city sells the building, benefits could include the revenue and no continuing maintenance expenses, and the return of the property to the city’s tax rolls.
On the other hand, the city would lose control of the building, and the former school could deteriorate. Deci also noted a weak commercial real estate market and risk of vacancy.
Advantages to demolishing the building include continued control of the land, no continuing maintenance costs and flexibility of future redevelopment by the city. But initial demolition costs could be about $150,000, and the city would lose a historic building, Deci said.
Councilor Kyle Rogers, who chairs the Economic Development Committee, advocated using the building as a charter school. Councilor Mari Eosco said she wants to take demolition option off the table.
“Let’s fill it; whatever we need to do,” she said. “Let’s have proposals come in, let’s find a good fit. But let’s just not sit on this.”
The EDC will eventually report back to the council.