OWOSSO — Owosso Public Schools is seeking bids for the purchase of its current middle school in downtown Owosso.
The approximately 122,000-square-foot structure will be vacated upon the completion of the Owosso 6-12 campus, which is expected in December 2020. Once empty, the property “will be deemed no longer of educational service to the district,” school officials said in a press release.
The deadline to submit a bid is Nov. 1. Superintendent Andrea Tuttle said via email the board is looking for the right fit, one that is in the best interest of the district and its taxpayers.
“Historically, when Owosso Public Schools has vacated a building, we have made it a priority to secure a tenant for the vacated space in a timely manner,” Tuttle said. “For example, the district has sold the administrative building on North Street to Covenant Eyes, the former Lincoln building to Woda (for senior housing), the Roosevelt building to Head Start, etc. We intend to do the same with the current middle school once our students transition to the secondary campus. I would like to see sustainable, community-focused businesses that align with downtown Owosso’s recent growth occupy the building.”
The middle school was built in 1928, with additions in 1950 and 1973. The building includes an auditorium capable of seating approximately 800 people, as well as a full kitchen that serves 700-plus students. The total site is 4.5 acres. The amount of acreage included in the sale of the property is to be negotiated, according to the release.
“Given the right fit, the potential for repurposing our middle school is tremendous,” Tuttle said. “We have looked at other communities that have filled former schools with a variety of businesses and community-based programs. I feel that given the location of the building, overlooking the river in the downtown area, the possibilities are endless for a company or group of companies looking to invest in Owosso. “
The exact value of the property is unknown, due to the unique nature of the space, Tuttle said. Revenue from the sale of the property would go into the district’s general fund to be used for student programming, she continued.
In evaluating bids for the property, the board will consider a variety of factors, including how the proposed use would benefit the district and community. The board will also consider the financial ability of the buyers to maintain and care for the space over an extended period of time.
“Ideally, the purchaser of the building would invest long-term in our community with a well-thought-out plan to utilize the space and be a good steward of the community,” Tuttle said. “We are seeking a fiscally responsible buyer who can demonstrate their success in completing similar projects on this large scale. The Request For Proposal has been sent and posted locally, regionally, and nationally with the intent of drawing the greatest amount of interest from potential buyers. “
The Owosso 6-12 campus was approved in November 2017, as voters in the district passed a $45.5 million bond that included the cost of the project, along with other improvements to the district’s elementary schools.
The bond covers the cost of the building construction and renovations needed to combine grades 6-12 at the high school campus, a price tag of approximately $38 million, while maintaining separation between middle school and high school students.
The measure includes funding for an updated career and technical education space, a new gymnasium for middle school students and a multi-purpose education space capable of seating 1,000 people, serving as both an auditorium and a classroom.
“As soon as we are able to relocate our middle school students into the new facility with minimal disruption to students’ education, we will proceed,” tuttle said. “Students and staff are anxious to move to the new space and we are optimistic that the project timeline will stay on track.”