Former South Portland school building to be sold

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SOUTH PORTLAND — City councilors gave City Manager Jim Gailey the go-ahead to put an 85-year-old former school building on the market.

Once known as the Roosevelt Elementary School, the 18,000-square-foot building at 317 Pine St. had been leased to the Richmond Corp., which operated the Spurwink School there for about 27 years.

Last summer, school officials informed Gailey and South Portland Finance Director Greg L’Heureux the school would be closing, terminating a lease agreement that was to run through Dec. 31, 2016. School officials expect to be completely moved out by the end of the month, but will continue to heat the building through the winter.

The school closure was due in part to declining enrollments as parents sent children with special education needs to public schools, Gailey said in a memo. The lease agreement carries a one-year escape clause, allowing the city to take full possession of the building in July 2013.

The lease, first signed in 1985, was amended and extended twice, a reflection of the capital investments made in the building by Richmond, Gailey said.

Annual rent was based on city tax assessments, and offset by expenses incurred for building improvements. Those improvements included new windows, a new elevator and new furnace. The last revised lease was signed in 1996.

The building, with two floors in front and a third floor in the rear, is now assessed at almost $476,000, with another $218,000 for the 1.74-acre property in a residential area.

Gailey said he recently toured the building, which has been modified by adding bathrooms to classrooms and portable walls to create class and office spaces. The school basement has been converted from bathrooms to multi-purpose rooms.

The city has made use of the former Hamlin School on Sawyer Street by converting it to the Planning and Development Office, but Gailey said he does not see a need to keep the former Roosevelt School.

“The city has no immediate needs for the property and finds keeping these types of school buildings as city assets is not in the best long-term interest of the city,” he concluded.

David Harry can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 110 or [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter: @DavidHarry8.

Portland City Hall reporter for The Forecaster. Baltimore native, lived in Maine since 1989. A journalist since 2005, covering much of Cumberland and York counties. I joined The Forecaster in 2012.