Silver Key seeks to buy former D-11 school

May 14, 2014 Updated: May 14, 2014 at 4:40 pm
photo - The last flag is taken down at Bates Elementary School on Friday, May 17, 2013. (Jerilee Bennett, The Gazette)
The last flag is taken down at Bates Elementary School on Friday, May 17, 2013. (Jerilee Bennett, The Gazette) 

Silver Key Senior Services wants to buy the former Katharine Lee Bates Elementary School in the Cragmor neighborhood, renovate the building and turn it into a new headquarters.

Colorado Springs School District 11's board of education will decide Wednesday night whether to accept the organization's bid of $850,000 for the property.

The public meeting starts at 6:30 p.m. at the district administration building, 1115 N. El Paso St.

The school, which opened in 1957, closed almost exactly one year ago as part of a districtwide downsizing and restructuring process.

A variety of charter schools, private individuals, real estate brokers and land developers have inquired about the property, which is near the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs, said Kris Odom, executive director for procurement and contracting for D-11.

"We had over 20 different interest groups over the year that asked about the site," she said.

District officials decided to hold a competitive bidding process Feb. 28-March 31.

While below the calculated fair market value of $1.1 million, Silver Key's offer is "the best-value offer that came in," Odom said.

In addition to the bid, the board evaluated the proposal based on the intended use of the building, the fit for the neighborhood and the likelihood the plans will materialize, she said.

D-11 circulated postcards last week to residents living within 500 feet of the site at 702 Cragmor Road and has received no negative feedback, Odom said.

"I feel comfortable saying the community will accept this," she said. "I think it's a good fit, and that's why it's a best-value offer."

Odom would not disclose the number of offers the district received during the competitive bidding process due to ongoing negotiations.

Silver Key, which provides a variety of support to senior citizens, including hot meals and other food assistance, transportation services and case management, has been on the west side of Colorado Springs at 2250 Bott Ave. for 40 years, said Patricia Ellis, president and chief executive officer. It operates a thrift store there.

But the Bott location is not centralized, needs upgrades and has multiple levels, which poses challenges for some clients, she said. The organization has been considering relocating since a study conducted last year concluded it would make sense to move, she said.

Out of 18 properties the nonprofit looked at, the Bates site rose to the top of the list.

"We aren't looking for a new glitzy building but something that's solid and all on one level," Ellis said. "We prefer a residential-type setting so it feels welcoming."

Last year, the organization delivered 52,000 Meals on Wheels and provided about the same number of trips to medical appointments and other locations.

Silver Key has the money to purchase the property but would need to hold a fundraising campaign to cover the cost of the renovations, which are still unknown.

The organization has held off firming up plans until D-11 accepts its offer, Ellis said. But it will need to build a commercial kitchen, she said.

Ellis said Silver Key owns its existing office building on Bott Avenue and its board has not yet made a decision as to the fate of that property.

Odom said that if all of the deadlines are met, the closing could happen in February or March.

"Silver Key seems to be very well supported by the community, and I don't see that they'll have a lot of hurdles in getting approvals in the time frame," Odom said.

Two other properties D-11 is in the process of selling are also on track, she added. The former Lincoln Elementary School at 2727 N. Cascade Ave. remains under contract with Atlas Preparatory School, a charter school that wants to turn the property into housing for teachers. The deal is scheduled to close in November, Odom said.

A contract between D-11 and a partnership group, The Land Development Company, which wants to buy 10 acres of vacant property on Bridle Pass Drive, also is progressing, Odom said. That transaction should close in August.

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