Jess Opfer says she was drawn to Rochester by its history and charm.
That’s why she and others are concerned about Rochester Community Schools’ decision to relocate its administration building, which has been located at 501 W. University Drive in the city’s downtown core for more than 130 years.
“For me, this is just a parody,” Opfer said.
She wonders why the neighborhood allowed a building so well known and loved by the community to fall into disrepair. District officials say it would cost $ 21.2-29.1 million to renovate it. Dismantling and building a new facility would cost $ 26.4 million to $ 31.4 million.
Opfer is also distressed by the neighborhood’s lack of transparency when moving the historic building and relocating to an office and warehouse at 52585 Dequindre Road in Rochester Hills.
The Board of Education voted last month to purchase the building on Dequindre Road between Highways 23 and 24 Miles for $ 7 million; the district says it needs about $ 3.4 million in upgrades.
Tiffany Dziurman, president of the Rochester-Avon Historical Society, says she is optimistic the district will work with the society and others in the community to find an appropriate use for the administration building.
“We were guaranteed a seat at the table,” she said. “That remains to be seen.”
She said the current administrative building, which the state recognizes as historic, would qualify for preservation tax credits that could attract a qualified developer.
She said the building offers many possibilities, such as a community center or an art center. She spoke of converting a historic Plymouth school into an arts center.
“It just takes a little creativity and imagination,” Dziurman said.
The district said in a statement that the current administrative building “presents a significant risk of building failure, due to its age, evidence of ongoing structural damage and the expired useful life of infrastructure and systems. current construction.
According to the press release, “sensitive” commercial real estate negotiations prevented the neighborhood from disclosing all aspects of the purchase of the Dequindre Road building.
“In sensitive commercial real estate inquiries, confidentiality is often necessary to protect the buyer from price distortion and inflated rise in value. Disclosure of RCS’s identity could have jeopardized negotiations and increased prices by 30-40%. Public disclosure of the district, within its boundaries, schedule and criteria, could present a substantial obstacle to fair pricing, ”the statement said.
THE HISTORY OF THE BUILDING
Dziurman said the University of the West site had served as a school since 1847.
- A building erected on the site in 1847 served as a private academy and then a public school from 1847 until the fire of 1888.
- A new school was built on the site in 1889.
- An addition was built in 1916, which served as the community’s high school.
- Another addition was built in 1928 which connected the two previously erected parts.
- Another wing was added in the early 1980s.
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