City Ponders 'Old School' Future
The nearly 90-year-old building will be vacant after the summer
After Kent State University Geauga leaves it's current home on Darrow Road, affectionately called the "old school," the city will have to decide what to do with the vacant building.
Kent State will move to it's new facility on Creekside Drive this summer and Community Developement and Planning Director Larry Finch doesn't want to see the almost 90-year-old building sit empty.
"We don’t want to have a vacant building sitting unmaintained so we’re very concerned of the status of the building after Kent State leaves,” Finch said.
Finch said Twinsburg-based Pervanje Architects already completed a general condition and code compliance assessment of the building. The assesment helps officials undestand what fixes are needed to make the building leasable.
The lack of leasable space is the biggest concern.
“Only 46 percent of the building area could be used to create any income for future use," Finch said. "That’s a big disadvantage."
Typically buildings will have around 76 percent of leasable space, according to Finch. In the old school's case, because of large hallways, an auditorium and other features, the amount of area is reduced.
“Because so many of the spaces are common space and not subject to individual restriction, there’s a small area that’s leasable," he said.
And with any renovation project, the pricetag becomes a big concern. Finch said that at the lowest range the city could be looking at $5 million and around $8.5 million at the highest.
“You can build a new building for substantially less than $5 million," Finch said. "Renovation costs far exceed new construction.”
He said if the city got a typcial 20-year loan they could be looking at $485,000 a year in interest -- a lease rate of $28.50 per square foot. Add in additional costs and utilities and it would be $700,000 a year.
"That’s not practical for a building like this," Finch said.
This leaves Finch and the city with very few options.
The old school could be left where it is with nothing done to it or sold to a developer who could choosed to renovate or tear it down. Finch hopes the city could work closely with a company to bring something new to this high-traffic area.
“If you look at the facts, we can’t really afford to renovate it and it would cost so much we couldn’t really lease it,” he said. "It wouldn’t be cost effective for us to do that. I think it would be best served if it were part of a larger development plan. Our best option is to work with someone else to create a development."