The Richmond County Board of Education’s building committee voted Tuesday to sell the building to JES Holdings LLC for $450,000. The school board would be responsible for demolishing the two-story structure, which staffers estimated would cost about $300,000, leaving the school system to pocket $150,000 from the sale.
The management company plans to build senior citizen housing on the site and has until June to obtain funding for the project, according to school board attorney Pete Fletcher.
School board member Jimmy Atkins said the sale is a welcome chance to get rid of the property after more than a decade of stagnation.
“We’ve been talking about this property for years,” Atkins said. “It’s sitting there, it’s not benefiting anyone in the community and it’s not benefiting the school board at all. I look at it as an opportunity to get it off our books, get it back on the tax rolls generating money for the county.”
The 1933-era structure was vacated in 1997 after the Davidson school moved to a new building on 12th Street. Since then, the building, which contains asbestos, began to deteriorate and the roof needed $100,000 in repairs. Because of the leaking roof, the second floor collapsed onto the first floor. The school system also had to board up the windows and erect a $20,000 fence to keep trespassers out.
Board member Jack Padgett said there have been interested buyers over the years, but the extensive repairs needed on the building might have broken many of those deals.
JES Holdings has until the end of 2013 to close on the deal with the school system and has provided $10,000 down payment to hold the sale.
Heard Robertson, the chairman of the real estate committee for Historic Augusta, said he would be disappointed to see the structure torn down, especially with the possibility for renovation. He acknowledged, however, that the building is in poor condition and that years have gone by with no buyer.
“We wanted to see it saved,” Robertson said. “It’s just unfortunate that when (the school system) vacated the building, they didn’t save it up to preservation … Now we’re 15 years down the road and the situation has become more difficult.”