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Schools Plan to Lease Uriah Hill, Retain Ownership

Potential uses include tutoring, youth sports, adult education, city recreation programs.

With potential uses ranging from a tutoring center to youth sports to adult education and community programs, Peekskill school officials have indicated a desire to retain district ownership of the mothballed Uriah Hill school building and lease it, with the first tenants moving in as early as Sept. 1.

These and other possibilities were discussed Tuesday during a workshop meeting of the Board of Education. A resolution that the district retain ownership for at least five years and hire a leasing agent to market the building to prospective tenants is expected to be on the agenda of the board’s Feb. 14 business meeting. Meanwhile the district will compile a list of appropriate and inappropriate uses of the building and its grounds.

“Don’t sell it. It’s a great property, especially if we need more classrooms” to accommodate district growth, said board member Douglas Glickert, sentiments echoed by several colleagues.

Superintendent of Schools James Willis said the Pemart Avenue building might serve the district’s technology and alternative education programs along with youth programs and community groups. Board member Lisbeth Bock suggested a tutoring center (possibly in conjunction with other districts), adult education or an extension of the city’s downtown branch of Westchester Community College. Board member Michael Simpkins suggested youth sports, especially baseball and football. Glickert suggested welcoming some of the city’s parks and recreation programs.

Willis said the building is valued at $4.2 million with a prospective lease value of $9.50 per square foot (an earlier report listed the lease value at $19 per square foot). Gregory Sullivan, assistant superintendent for business, said the building costs the district $65,000 in annual minimal maintenance (an earlier report listed $90,000).

In response to a question from Simpkins about code issues, Sullivan said the building was in compliance for educational purposes but might need tweaking for office use. Willis noted, as an example, that the drinking fountains, positioned to accommodate young children, were a bit low for adults.

In addition to the anticipated Feb. 14 resolution the district’s next steps are to solicit bids from prospective leasing agents and to line up options for use of the building, board President Joseph Urbanowicz said.

Barbara LoPrete February 10, 2012 at 11:56 AM
So, we have a 4.2 million dollar asset that costs an estimated 70,000 dollars annually to maintain and at present, I assume, pays no property taxes. And we want to keep it because we have countless ideas that will generate no revenue for the city or may need it if our abysmally rated school district encourages more enrollment. What's wrong with this thinking? If we sell it, it might cover 25% of the cost of the firehouse - did anyone consider that?
peekskillman February 10, 2012 at 10:58 PM
Abotu 10 years ago an addition was built to the original building to handle the predicted influx of new students to the district. Cost--app $6million dollars. Ten plus years later , it is empty.Even with this economy, how could the cost of the entire building be valued at only $4million?? Was this additon another of Supt Johnson's hat feathers, or do school board members even know what is going on? I applaud the dist and city for making the effort to rejuvinate this buliding, but hopoe that they do it with the thought of no new taxes or assessments in mind, as well as turning a profit for the schools. BTW, good idea Ms. LoPrete. However, I doubt that the initial estimates of the boondoggle of a fire house are going to be close to $16 mil. Talk now is that it is approaching $20 mil, and may even go further. Stay tuned
Jeff Canning February 14, 2012 at 03:26 AM
From my friend Pat Concilio, founder and director of Spotlight Theatre Productions: How about making it into a Peekskill Performing Arts Center where acting and dancing classes can be held? Utilize space for art shows, redo the auditorium (gym) to put in permanent seats and fix the lighting and utilize that space as a theater. Groups (such as Spotlight) should get first bids. Can utilize the space as well as dance studios for their children's shows.

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