By Margie Plunkett
The old Boynton Beach high school’s hallowed halls could someday become home to a hospitality establishment, a group of small businesses or even another education provider — and commissioners are pushing to make that happen sooner rather than later.
Commissioners put City Manager Kurt Bressner together with the consultants who just mapped future possibilities for the school so that the two can start developing a request for proposal to find a buyer or partner for development of the landmark.
City leaders were eager to get on with the process after Kevin Greiner of consultants IBI Group said he had turned up potential investors or partners, including TD Bank, in a limited test of the market. “I really want to fast forward to getting something done here,” said Mayor Jose Rodriguez following the presentation.
The report, by IBI and REG Architects, recommended the city:
• Develop the school using third-party financing rather than city funds
• Decline to develop the project on spec, and
• Balance economics with opportunity when selecting the final development option.
Hospitality, office redevelopment and culture and the arts were likely uses of the building, according to IBI, which noted, among other things, that the unique gymnatorium offers entertainment, conference or banquet potential.
Unlikely uses were residential real estate, retail development, public service or industrial, the group said.
In addition to the gymnatorium, the property’s strengths are its unique design, gateway location, unique public assembly space and architecturally unique interior spaces, Greiner said during the presentation.
The challenges: Demand remains sluggish, vacancy rates are high, property values are low and lease rates are low.
Greiner also urged commissioners to start the design and zoning process for the building right away to avoid delays when a potential developer is found.Police building discussed
In a separate development issue, commissioners asked staff to bring back more information on two sites for a new police headquarters: one, valued at $14.1 million, on High Ridge and the other, at $14.8 million, at Ocean Breeze East on Northeast Sixth Avenue and Seacrest Boulevard.
The staff was also directed to bring more information on which of the city’s properties could be sold to help finance the project; and to find out what the price is to appraise the properties.
The city has been debating moving its Police Department, which has grown out of its current digs next to City Hall.
The staff also put together financial scenarios for the Police Department to buy some time by staying in its current location. The alternatives ranged from $4 million to $24 million.
The lowest project would buy the city 10 years, and include replacement of carpet and ceiling tile, but no build out, said Jeff Livergood, director of public works and engineering.
The second option would buy the city 20 years and cost $14 million. It would include safety components such as a sprinkling system to battle fires, air conditioning and plumbing work and expansion of space.
The $24 million would allow for construction of a three-story police annex on the site currently occupied by Fire Station No. 1. That would provide the Police Department’s space needs for the next 30 years, Livergood said. Ú