WFISD: Bids for two historic schools low

WFISD: Bids for two historic school low

Wichita Falls Independent School District calls developer's bids for two historic school buildings "under-whelming." The Alamo Elementary School and Holland School are for sale. The highest bid for Alamo Elementary is $100-thousand dollars. That bid was made by R.C.Graham Inc. owned by Rick and Christy Graham. Their company has been successful renovating historic buildings in Wichita Falls and converting them into luxury apartments. They own the Holt Hotel Apartments, LaSalle crossing and the Austin School Lofts.

Rick Graham says it's going to cost about $1.5 million dollars to convert the Alamo elementary school into luxury apartments. Apartments that Graham says will generate $30 thousand dollars a year in taxes - minimum -for the next 30 years. 

"It's going to take a lot of money to sprinkler it. Get rid of the asbestos, lead based paint issues all the windows need to be replaced, we will have to insulate it. There is a lot of work that has to be done. A lot of demo just to start it."

School officials say last spring WFISD board members discussed demolishing Alamo Elementary School and Holland School - both about a century old. But they decided to sell the buildings and have them re-purposed because it would cost between $200 and $300 thousand to tear them down. Also, some community groups and residents oppose demolition.
Developer Graham says the schools are eligible for landmark status - because buildings like the Alamo will never be built again. 
"If you tear it down you'll get a metal building to replace it at best it will be a concrete structure. It won't have any of the pretty architecture. It won't have any of the ambiance and there are still people who went there that I know from the 1930's - who went to elementary school there. It should not be torn down."
WFISD received  an $11 thousand dollar bid for the Holland School from Golden Nugget Properties L.L.C. It is not know what the company plans to do with the building if their bid is accepted.
The buildings can't be used as schools and whoever buys them must maintain the architectural integrity of the buildings. Rick Graham says he will be disappointed if WFISD decides to ask for more bids.
"If they don't accept my bid that's fine. I gave them a bid of what I could fix it for. If it's a re-bid I'm not going to bid any more. If they can find someone to better purpose the structure, keep it on the tax roll, and meet the challenges of old buildings then that's probably what they should do."
School officials say they would rather see the buildings re-purposed than sit empty or demolished. They say the Board of Trustees will have an open discussion about the issue and a possible re-bidding at their Monday night meeting. 

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