Hornell Voters to decide on proposed sale of Bryant Elementary School building
During this year’s Annual Budget Vote and School Board Election on May 18, voters of the Hornell Central School District will also decide on the proposed sale of the Bryant Elementary School, slated for closure at the end of the 2020-21 academic year.
The Board of Education voted to close the Bryant building in the early spring of 2020, following a two-year decision-making process involving comprehensive facility and operation reviews, and stakeholder feedback.
In May of 2020, the district was approached by a potential buyer, Park Grove Realty, who has since made an offer of $500,000 on the Bryant Building.
A Rochester real estate development and management company, Park Grove specializes in multi-family residential, mixed-use and commercial projects, often involving the rehabilitation and historic preservation of existing buildings. The company prides itself in collaborating with local leaders to develop projects and assets that are beneficial to the community, and of long-term value to their business. Locally, Park Grove is currently redeveloping the old Rockland Silk Mill industrial building into loft-type residential units.
Park Grove’s redevelopment proposal for the Bryant school building was informed by historical research, close collaboration with district and city officials, and incorporates the feedback of the diverse stakeholder groups represented in the Facilities Committee.
The site plan would ensure the preservation of the Bryant building’s exterior, large portions of the surrounding green spaces, as well as the school’s playground which would remain open to the neighboring community. With the addition of a small building extension, the project would deliver 39 workforce housing units (two studios, 22 one-bedroom and 14 two-bedroom units), a community room and fitness center. Rents are estimated to range between $625 and $850 a month.
“We are very excited about the opportunity to help preserve some of Hornell’s history while creating new, high-quality housing opportunities for low and mid-income individuals and families,” said Andrew Bodewes, a partner and co-founder of Park Grove Realty, LLC.
During the summer of 2020, the district’s Legal Counsel (Andrew J. Freedman, Partner, Hodgson Russ LLP) engaged in negotiations with Park Grove executives, and the district agreed to an offer of $500,000 for the Bryant School Elementary building. The offer is well above the ranging sale price for school buildings of Bryant’s size and age.
“School buildings are very challenging to retrofit and require a steep capital investment,” said Andrew Freedman, district attorney. “I am confident that Hornell’s Board of Education is meeting its fiduciary duties by accepting the Park Gove offer. Moreover, we believe that this project is sensitive to the community’s understandable attachment to the Bryant School building and enriches our city’s housing resources.”
The sale contract has been negotiated and executed by Jeremy Palotti, Superintendent of Schools, and the district has submitted Park Grove’s Bryant School redevelopment proposal for the State Environmental Quality Review (SEQR). While enforceable, the contract has built-in contingencies for both parties, namely, voter approval through referendum on May 18; the financing of Park Grove’s project proposal; and the state’s environmental review.
Conversations between Park Grove executives, district and city officials are ongoing, and the company remains open to community questions and feedback. A community forum will be announced.