HUDSON — The city school district is looking for developers to propose some way to preserve the 1927 portion of the middle school building on Oviatt Street, once it is no longer needed for classroom space.

The district’s new middle school is scheduled to open in 2020-21. The old middle school, including the historic portion, will see its final days as classroom space for students in third through fifth grade while renovations are being done on elementary school buildings.

Once that work is complete and students return to the elementary buildings in 2021-22, the non-1927 parts of the old middle school building will be torn down. 

Qualified real estate development firms have been invited to submit proposals that will be considered by the 1927 Building Study Committee, which consists of residents, community organization leaders, district administrators, and city representatives.

In addition, the district has advertised the RFP to the community at-large, hoping some development firm will see a way to preserve the building. The deadline for submissions is March 20.

The 1927 Committee is encouraging any community members with knowledge and/or association with developers to contact Hudson City School District Business Manager Steve Marlow at marlows@hudson.edu. By using a formal request for proposals process, Hudson Schools, the 1927 Committee, and community stakeholders will gain a better understanding of the developer’s proposal and the developer’s capability to finance the proposal.

"It is important that we keep the community apprised of the next steps of the 1927 Building Committee," said District Superintendent Phil Herman. "We hope to have more information to share this spring."

For nearly a year, the 1927 Committee has studied ideas and developed extensive information and materials about the 1927 building. Much of these materials are included in the RFP and supporting documents for the rehabilitation and redevelopment of the 1927 portion of Hudson Middle School, which was formerly Hudson High School.

"The 1927 Building Study Committee continues to work diligently to bring a proposal to the community that is in the best interests of our district and the community," said Herman. "Now is the time in the process for us to gauge interest and solicit proposals from real estate developers who have the financial capacity needed to redevelop the 1927 building."

The push for preservation

With the passage of the November 2017 bond issue, construction of the new middle school and other renovations and additions are moving forward on schedule.

During the early phase of the Master Facility plan, the district hired Westlake Reed Leskosky (WRL) architects to conduct a feasibility study for the 1927 building. The architectural firm presented several options to the Board of Education that could be considered for the use of the building. The options included residential, office and conference space, and community use spaces.

Each option was estimated to cost approximately $12 million.

Using this study as a basis, the 1927 Committee has developed a common understanding of the WRL Feasibility Study, procedures to move forward with the future use of the building, and city zoning and planning regulations that would govern the use of the site and building.

The committee also learned what steps are needed to make a recommendation to the School Board for the sale, or conveyance of the building for a purpose, other than a school for the district, that provides an acceptable use of the building for the community.

At the Dec. 12 School Board meeting, two members of the 1927 Committee, Christopher Bach, President of the Hudson Heritage Association, and Greg Hannan, the city’s Community Development Director, along with Herman, presented information about the work of the committee study. This work included public and private use ideas.

Some of those considerations included: private, parochial, vocational, and charter schools, continuing adult education, training and research, business incubator, mixed-use residential and office space, residential condos, high-end loft apartments, senior housing, senior center, visual and performing arts cultural center, with the expressed interest of maintaining the auditorium, and a community center. The same presentation was given at a neighbors meeting in December.

"In order to further advance the feasibility of these concepts, the Hudson City School District released an RFP in January," said Herman. "Restricted by law, a school district may only offer property for sale through an auction, direct sale to a charter school, or to another governmental entity. The district is allowed to offer the sale through another governmental entity."

He added that any plan for the reuse and redevelopment of the building received via the request for proposals would be done in conjunction with the Development Finance Authority of Summit County.

"While it seems to be more complicated than it is, the Hudson Schools will initiate a development agreement with a selected firm and facilitate the transfer of property from the district, via the Finance Authority to the developer, either by lease agreement or conveyance of the title of the property."

Community members can visit the district’s website at www.hudson.k12.oh.us. Click on Schools. Select the Master Facility Plan. The notes from all the 1927 Building Study Committee meetings are located in the news feed. In addition, the RFP and supporting documents can be viewed on the district’s website at https://tinyurl.com/qrmvyel.