The district’s parcel bounded by First Street, Bernal Avenue and Abbie Street is under-utilized and would be an ideal new neighborhood. Current plans call for a portion of the site to be sold for housing while Village High could be moved on the site and rebuilt. Most of the buildings date to the 1950s when it was a school and were refurbished after the elementary and high school districts unified. The report to trustees noted that dry rot and other deterioration had been seen in the 70-year-old buildings. It also, because it is tiered on a hillside, has significant issues for accessibility for disabled people.
There are options on the table to clear the site entirely. Senior staff have been negotiating to purchase two buildings in Hacienda Business Park across from Hart Middle School. One space is currently leased, while the larger building is available to consolidate district office operations. With the real estate market in flux because of the pandemic and many companies re-evaluating their use of space, it’s an ideal time to consider moving so the entire site can be sold for residential development. It’s the best use of that site and likely will fetch a handsome price that could be used to offset the other purchase as well as improvements.
Buying existing buildings cost about one-third as much as new construction for office buildings.
The continuation school doesn’t require the same type of facilities as the comprehensive high schools and likely could also find a home in one of the city’s various business parks. The maintenance and transportation department also could find a new home in a business park. There’s plenty of space available.
Moving ahead will give district leaders the opportunity to upgrade and modernize the facilities so they can serve more efficiently than the recycled former school site.
It also will be a win for the city, allowing needed housing near downtown and creating tax revenue from property tax and sales tax from residents.
It’s a good idea and the time is right.