AASD board accepts bid for former school

Children will be dancing in the former Curtin Elementary School building on Chestnut Avenue.

The Altoona Area school board accepted a $140,100 bid on Monday from Rebecca Reese, who intends to use the building for her Blair Dance Academy. With the sale, the district not only gains the amount of the bid but also a boost in annual tax revenue.

Realtor Richard Johnston has been showing the building for the district, as well as the former Wright Elementary building, since February. “The biggest comment on these are the assessment and taxes on the property,” Johnston said. “They scared a lot of people.”

The total taxes on Curtin Elementary are about $25,000 per year, he said. The building, which formerly housed the district’s preschool program, was put up for sale when the preschool program was moved to a new location at the beginning of this school year.

In a 6-2 vote, the board accepted Reese’s offer and rejected a $140,000 proposal from KF Affiliated Services of Altoona to make the building a day care center.

Dick Lockard and Ron Johnston voted against the dance academy proposal. John Donley abstained.

“The Curtin school is already set up to be a day care center,” Lockard said.

Both bidders wanted to appeal the taxes and subject the building to zoning, but those stipulations of the exchange were eliminated, Johnston said.

“They will be buying it as is,” he said.

The district asked $139,000 for the building and obtained two interested parties, so the board opted to select a buyer using sealed bids.

Legally, district solicitor Dave Andrews said the board could have chosen either of the bids. The board was not obligated to take the higher bid.

The county court of common pleas, responsible for approving the sale, requires that the bid is about the amount of the appraised value, Andrews said.

Both properties were listed 10 percent more than the appraised value, and so both bids came in greater than the appraised value.

Richard Johnston is also selling the former Wright Elementary building for the district. The taxes on that building are $120,000 per year.

However, to incentivize the purchase of Wright, the board has entered the building into a state tax break program. As a result, whoever purchases the building would not have to pay taxes on the property until the year 2020, Richard Johnston said.

Curtin doesn’t have that temporary tax-free designation; it will be added to the district’s tax rolls when Reese takes over.

Richard Johnston said he also received two offers for Wright Elementary. The district asked $135,000 for that building, and both bids came in at $136,000. Both potential buyers are out of town, he said.

A business from the Allentown area intends to use the building for a children’s fun zone like a “Slinky Action Zone,” he said.

The other offer is from Asif Khatri of Port Matilda. He wants to build 40 to 50 apartments in the building.

The board is waiting to make a decision on the Wright building as other potential buyers may be interested.

Mirror Staff Writer Russ O’Reilly is at 946-7435.