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Published: Thursday, 6/30/2011 - Updated: 3 years ago

Facing demolition, old Libbey school is back up for sale

Minimum bid is to be $400,000

BY NOLAN ROSENKRANS
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Libbey High School, which closed after the 2009-2010 school year, is up for auction. The entire Libbey complex on Western Avenue will be on the auction block. Toledo Public School officials are looking for ways to preserve the building while getting the property off district ledgers. Libbey High School, which closed after the 2009-2010 school year, is up for auction. The entire Libbey complex on Western Avenue will be on the auction block. Toledo Public School officials are looking for ways to preserve the building while getting the property off district ledgers.
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The Toledo Public School district plans to put the shuttered Libbey High School up for auction, the latest attempt to find an alternative use for a building scheduled to be demolished within the year.

The Board of Education approved a resolution authorizing the auction, which should happen within about a month, TPS chief business manager James Gant said. The entire Libbey campus on Western Avenue would be up for auction, with a minimum bid to be set at about $400,000, the fair market value of the land as determined by the Lucas County Auditor's Office.

District leaders said that, while the Libbey complex is still on track for demolition, they wanted to continue to look for ways to preserve the building while getting the property off district ledgers.

"We want to provide the community every opportunity possible to find an alternative use for the building," Mr. Gant said.

The successful bidder must pay closing costs as well as sign a purchase agreement and provide 10 percent of the bid price in cash at the time of the auction, according to the resolution approved Tuesday night. The district reserves the right to reject any successful bid.

Lisa Sobecki, vice president of the school board, said the board would seriously consider selling the building to a private entity if it meets the bid specifications.

"That's quite a chunk of change," she said. "I'm thinking that it would be [a] serious person that would come forward [with a bid]."

The 80-year-old school building, which closed after the 2009-2010 school year, is scheduled to be razed under the district's plan. Tuesday's move comes less than a month after the city of Toledo backed out of an agreement to purchase part of the property.

The Board of Education on April 26 approved a development agreement that would transfer ownership of the fieldhouse and skill center on Libbey's campus to the city. Because the complex's heating and cooling systems are in the main building, a new system would have to be installed for the other structures, and both roofs need repairs.

Under the agreement passed by the Board of Education, Toledo Public Schools would have paid the initial repair bill, which the city would repay over three years.

But an engineering firm hired by the city determined the cost of converting the two structures into a community recreation center would be nearly $5 million, which was too expensive for the city's plans.

The city's decision put the entire Libbey complex back on schedule to be torn down.

If TPS does not begin demolition by the end of the year, the district may lose about $1.5 million in funding from the Ohio School Facilities Commission for the work. TPS would then be responsible for any demolition, along with maintaining the building while it is still standing.

"The district does not have the funds to be able to continue to operate the building," Ms. Sobecki said. "Every penny counts in the district."

Libbey preservation supporters pushed for the auction, imploring school board members to continue looking for ways to save the building.

"A sale gives the opportunity for an investment in the neighborhood," said Sue Terrill, a member of the Edward Drummond Libbey Complex Preservation Committee, "whereas demolition will leave a long, deep, deep hole in the community and a hole in our pockets."

Supporters of preservation also said they have an advisory meeting with the Ohio Historic Preservation Office scheduled for July 15 to determine if Libbey should be nominated for the National Register of Historic Places. If the building was named a historic place, the owner could qualify for tax credits to renovate the complex.

The minimum bid of $400,000 is significantly less than the price slated for Libbey when the building was offered to charter schools. Ms. Sobecki said in May that the district offered the building on Jan. 3 to charter schools for its appraised value of $10 million, but received no offers.

Since Libbey has been closed, some have offered the district $1, and others have proposed to lease the building while the district maintains it, Mr. Gant said, but no one has come forward with substantial offers for the building, other than the city.

Contact Nolan Rosenkrans at: nrosenkrans@theblade.com or 419-724-6086.



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