CPSB chooses not to sell historic Hamilton Terrace school

CPSB chooses not to sell historic Hamilton Terrace school
The Hamilton Terrace School was built in 1933.
The Hamilton Terrace School was built in 1933.

CADDO PARISH, LA (KSLA) - The Caddo Parish School Board unanimously decided not to sell the historic Hamilton Terrace School building at Tuesday's school board meeting.

Instead, they've chosen to keep the currently vacant and boarded up school in the district for future uses.

According to board documents, the CPSB put up the 81-year-old school for auction in October of 2013 for $1,320,000.00 as a minimum reserve purchase price, but no bidders matched that amount.

The board then put it up for re-bid in March of 2014 with a $650,000.00 minimum reserve purchase price. At that time, the school chose to hold on to the school "to determine the viability of re purposing the land and property for right sizing and educational use" as outlined in a memo to the Caddo Parish School Board.

However, the idea of selling the property came up again after Chief Operations Officer James Woolfolk informed the superintendent that several inquiries from interested parties about the property were coming in.

According to a memo from both Caddo Superintendent Lamar Goree and Woolfolk, on November 20, 2014, the district received a real estate property contract with an expiration date of December 19, 2014 in the amount of $650,000.00 for the Hamilton Terrace Property.

The offer prompted Goree to ask the board in a memo dated December 1, 2014 to add the subject to the agenda. The board could decide to either re-advertise the property for sale, accept the offer that's already on the table, or save the land for future use by the district.

Ultimately, the board overwhelmingly chose to keep the property within the district. Superintendent Goree calls the boards decision a "strong one". Goree is excited to hold on to the property at this point.

"I think as we look at how to resize our district, we just feel at this time, it would be premature to sell that property" says Goree.

As for what may be done with the school, Goree says everything is on the table.

"We will look at the possible re-purposing of the building, we will look at tearing down the building, we'll look at that site as an option for a new school" explains Goree.

But Erin Berry, a member of the Highland Restoration Association (HRA), says the group wishes they had been told about the idea before it even came up for a vote.

Berry stood up before the board and read a letter from HRA's president Tom Arceneaux about how the group would have liked to offer input on the matter.

"Well, we just wanted to be involved with who they might sell the property to, what use that might have, what effect it would have on the neighborhood," said Berry.

Even after the fact, Berry hopes the board can still use the association as a resource.

"We are just willing to find some way to help," says Berry.

Goree says consulting with the group is something they will now plan to do in the future.

"We certainly look forward to working with them on that project," said Goree.

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