The soon-to-be former middle school property will cost the city of Greenwood $1 million, but the possible return on that downtown investment could be worth the price, city leaders said.
Picture two- and three-story downtown offices and condominiums, high-end steak and seafood restaurants, new retailers and trails connecting to city parks. Greenwood Mayor Mark Myer has this vision for the 16-acre property once the current Greenwood Middle School is torn down.
When that development could take place and how much it could cost, including how it would be paid for, won’t be decided for several years, though.
On Tuesday, the Greenwood Redevelopment Commission approved the $1 million purchase price of the current Greenwood Middle School property, at 523 S. Madison Ave. The funding would come entirely from tax-increment financing, or TIF, district funds. The $1 million price was determined by appraisals and agreed upon by the city and the school district. With the redevelopment commission’s approval, the city can now finalize the purchase.
The current middle school property is inside the city’s downtown TIF district. When the property is demolished, city officials have high hopes for the possible development that could go in.
“This is just another step in making downtown a destination,” board member Mike Campbell said. “In a few years, the potential for that area on the south end of Madison Avenue will add to our downtown and make our city a place people will be excited about.”
The city can take over the property in 2017 or 2018 after students move to the new middle school and the 66-year-old building downtown is demolished, board president Mike Tapp said.
Demolition costs are estimated to be about $2 million, which would be paid for with tax dollars, Campbell said.
The $1 million cost to buy the property is a bargain considering all the possible development that could come to the site, Campbell said.
The city will take over the title of the property, but Greenwood schools will use and maintain the building until the new middle school is built.
“We had discussed charging the school district to use the building after the city purchased it, but I’ve wanted to have a better working relationship with our local schools. Letting them use it at no cost until the new middle school is built just felt like the good, neighborly thing to do,” Campbell said.
In June, the school district finalized plans for a new middle school at Averitt and Stop 18 roads near Freedom Park. About four weeks ago, the school district started construction with plans for the new middle school to be built by 2017.
The new, 160,000-square-foot, three-story middle school will cost Greenwood schools $27 million.