The Urbana Board of Education met in regular session Tuesday to consider a lease agreement with Flaherty & Collins concerning North and South elementary schools.
The measure, which passed unanimously, allows the developer to show significant control of the property and apply for additional government funding for a proposed senior housing project. That sale and renovation is on hold until the district can remove property from the sites, including years of files stored there.
“We already have an agreement to sell the buildings, transfer them to the city and dispose of the property that way,” Superintendent Charles Thiel said. “The main point of this particular agreement is so that Flaherty and Collins can take substantial control of the buildings sooner, which they have to do by the end of March to apply for additional grant dollars.”
Both elementary schools have been designated as federal historic sites, which allowed the developer to procure a significant amount of renovation funding vital to the process.
“I think there’s a lot of misconception in the community about how this works,” board member Amy Paul said. “And I don’t know how we can clarify that. But I know I’ve gotten a lot of feedback on that and trying to explain the process is extremely difficult.”
Thiel noted the lease agreement would “go away” once the purchase agreement was executed.
That purchase agreement would turn the property over to the city, which would allow the developer to do the renovation and save the school district money that otherwise would be spent on demolition and abatement.