OWENSBORO, Ky. (9/16/13) – The Owensboro Public School District is poised to move forward with plans to develop a regional career and technical education center upon today’s closing of the sale of the former Texas Gas property at 3800 Frederica St., to the school district for $3 million. The property, which is being purchased from Riverfront Jam, LLC, has been assessed at a fair market value of $10.5 million.
“The completion of the purchase of the Texas Gas/Boardwalk building and grounds is providing us with a unique opportunity to create a regional career and technical education center that will allow us to align course offerings and training with the workforce needs of this community,” said Nick Brake, Superintendent of Owensboro Public Schools.
“We have been in discussion for several months with regional school districts as well as with the Owensboro Community and Technical College to explore the development of a secondary school center focused on career and technical education for the Owensboro region that will also partner with postsecondary programs,” Brake explained. He said that there has been very positive feedback from potential partners for a future career and technical center.
“This center will provide countless opportunities to engage and prepare students to have successful and productive careers aligned to the Owensboro regional workforce needs. With Kentucky’s new mandatory attendance being raised to 18, it is critical that we have a variety of programs in place to retain these students in a productive way,” Brake added.
A purchase agreement for the facility, which was recently vacated by Boardwalk employees when they moved to their new office building in downtown Owensboro, was established in September 2012 with Matt Hayden representing Riverfront Jam, LLC. Since that time, the Owensboro Board of Education has spent considerable time researching possible uses for the building.
“The purchase of this property is an outstanding value for our district. We could not have found a better location for a career and technical center that would serve 9-12 grade students from this region,” said OPS Board Chair Nancy Eskridge.
For the past year, the district has been working with architect Craig Thomas with RBS Design Group who has also enlisted the Matrix Environmental Group, LLC, to assess the needs for retrofitting the building for possible school uses. Thomas and district staff members have been working with the Kentucky Department of Education to assess the condition of the building and to determine the extent of such issues as asbestos.
“The Texas Gas office building and property are a perfect fit for re-purposing into a regional career and technical education center on many fronts. Ease of retrofit, location, space, and serviceability all work great.” Thomas said the building’s air quality meets EPA standards for occupation as shown by recent air testing.
Thomas has had considerable experience with school facilities throughout the state. All known environmental issues can continue to be managed until renovation, and then remediated during renovation. “It is a wonderful opportunity to create a fantastic learning environment that can be second to none. Based upon our experience, we believe that renovation of this building is a cost effective alternative to new construction and a very exciting project to be a part of,” he said.
Thomas gave the school board a $1.5 million estimate to remediate the environmental problems in the building.
“With the closing of the purchase of the 162,000 square-foot building and 32 acre property, we have a rare opportunity to create something that is greatly needed in this region using an iconic piece of architecture that has a special place in the history of Owensboro,” said Brake. “Even with the cost of building modifications, this is an excellent investment not only for our own students but for those in this region and for the future workforce.”
The facility can serve 400 to 500 students for the proposed use. When complete the recommendation and plans will be submitted to the Local Facility Planning Committee and subsequently to the Owensboro Board of Education and Kentucky Department of Education for approval.
Information provided by Janet Suwanski
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