Press-Republican

February 24, 2014

City School prepares to lease some Duken space

By ASHLEIGH LIVINGSTON Press-Republican
Press-Republican

---- — PLATTSBURGH — Multiple entities have expressed interest in leasing space in Plattsburgh City School’s Duken Building.

The district has been contacted by both Kaleidoscope Children’s Center and Start-Up NY about possibly occupying a portion of the facility, located at 49 Broad St., City School Superintendent James “Jake” Short told the School Board at a recent meeting.

A third, unidentified entity may also be interested in renting space there, he said.

NOT YET READY TO RENT

The notion of leasing out all or part of the facility, which currently houses district offices, emerged from a recently completed building-use study conducted by Castallo & Silky Education Consultants.

Short said about half of the building could be available for lease without the district having to move offices to another facility.

However, “we aren’t geared up and set up as landlords, so we (first) need to do a couple things,” he said.

City School Associate Superintendent Jay Lebrun has been working on getting an estimate of the appropriate price to charge for the space, Short noted, and the district needs to work with its legal council to develop lease agreements.

EXEMPTIONS

Later in the meeting, board member Fred Wachtmeister told attendees he would not support the City School renting to Start-Up NY, a program initiated by Gov. Andrew Cuomo that allows new businesses in university communities to operate tax free for 10 years.

“I think it’s filled with tax exemptions, which I personally don’t think are good for the state in the long run (and) certainly not good for the area here,” he said.

Wachtmeister added that he believes the best use of the Broad Street facility is for educational purposes.

WAITING FOR WORK

While Castallo & Silky’s final recommendation was that the district move its offices to the middle and high schools and lease out the entire Duken building, Short said now might not be the best time for that, as the schools are in need of capital work.

“I think it’s probably more prudent to fix some major capital areas ... so we don’t compound our problems by moving in at the same time,” he said.

Separate from the building-use study, Mosaic Associates Architects recently completed a state-mandated building-conditions survey to assess City School’s future maintenance needs.

The study identified an array of work that needs to be done, including replacement of the High School roof.

“I don’t suggest we vacate the rest of this (Duken) Building at the same time (as) trying to do the repair of the High School roof because we may have to relocate classrooms while the roof is being replaced,” Short said.

However, once maintenance needs are addressed, he noted, “we might be able to completely vacate this building.”

RENOVATIONS VOTE

Though Mosaic Associates pointed out several million dollars worth of capital work within the district, Short said, “there’s a large amount of that work that can be done by our own maintenance group; in fact, they’ve already started.”

Other items could potentially be funded by state building aid, he said.

But larger endeavors, such as the roof replacement, asbestos abatement and improvements to heat-management systems within the district, call for a capital project that would require taxpayer approval.

The school, Short noted, would also need to secure an engineering architect firm and get state approval for such a project. It likely wouldn’t be ready to put before voters until August or September.

The superintendent recommended the board’s facilities subcommittee begin looking into requesting proposals from interested architect firms and speak with the district’s attorney about crafting a lease agreement for the Duken space.

Email Ashleigh Livingston:alivingston@pressrepublican.com

NEXT MEETING The Plattsburgh City School Board will meet next at 7 p.m. Thursday, March 6, at the Duken Building. Agenda items include a presentation on bond rates and the potential impact of a capital project.