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Flint, MI — The Flint School District will soon list some of its 22 unoccupied and vacant properties for sale, but the Board of Education has yet to decide which properties might be put on the market, Superintendent Anita Steward said.
The board will discuss more details about the bidding and proposal process during a board meeting Aug. 11. The meeting will be held at Accelerated Learning Academy, 1602 S. Averill Avenue Flint, MI, at 6:30 p.m. for those interested in purchasing any of the properties.
“Meeting attendees can expect to hear the Board of Education review and discuss a process for soliciting proposals of the properties. In these circumstances, there is often a bidding process that occurs. The board plans to also provide information regarding the procedure of potentially selling those spaces. The process is transparent and open to all potential bidders, including community groups,” Steward said.
The Board of Education has full legal power to sell or dispose of the properties, Attorney Gordon VanWieren of Thrun Law Firm said at a May 12 board meeting.
“With regards to your district policy, I’ve reviewed it, it’s very good, and it provides broad discretion, again, to allow the board to take action to sell property,” VanWieren, who specializes in public school real estate, told board members.
Michigan law requires districts to receive “fair value” for their properties, meaning they cannot simply give them away. VanWieren noted “fair value” was a different concept than “fair market value.” The former concerns the value of an asset’s intrinsic worth, while the latter refers to a price determined by supply and demand.
Since 2009, student enrollment has decreased by 70%, and the district has been unable to downsize fast enough, causing severe budget problems and an $18 million deficit.
The State of Michigan has charged Flint Schools with developing an enhanced deficit elimination plan and the board began exploring options in January, including selling the district’s vacant properties.
To inform the plan and the sale of the properties, the board voted to enter a $48,000 Memorandum of Understanding — a nonbinding agreement between entities— with the Department of Treasury that will pay for Plante Moran Cresa, a commercial real estate advisor, to do various assessments.
The assessments are already underway, which include a pupil enrollment projection, a building utilization assessment, capital planning facility assessments, and other program assessments.
Steward said there have been some inquiries about the properties.
One development firm, informally known as the Harvard Group, expressed interest in repurposing and restoring the Central High School-Whittier Classical Academy campus for adaptive reuse—the process of reusing an existing building for a purpose other than originally intended.
Ian Shetron, who would spearhead the potential project, said he will be attending the Aug. 11 board meeting, but has no further updates on the potential project.