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"Old Yellow" is on the selling block.
The city wants to receive official proposals for a new use for the former elementary school, built in 1912 and empty now for close to two decades.
The goal, according to City Manager Charles Kolakowski, is "to get a positive reuse out of the building and preserve the building at no cost to the city."
Some time ago the city determined that the school, dubbed "Old Yellow" because of its appearance, is no longer suitable to be used as a school. Last summer the city sought suggestions from area residents as to what to do with the building. In October at least one developer suggested the building could still be used as a school, but the city does not agree with that assessment, stating such a use would be cost prohibitive.
Now, what the city is hoping is that someone will come along with a proposal to put the building into use to bring pedestrian traffic into the Centertown area.
"We're not really sure what that is," Kolakowski said of potential uses. "We're asking for proposals ... something that will contribute to the overall benefit of the city and be compatible to being next to a school."
Bedford is currently advertising for interested parties to submit proposals for the use of the property located on the campus of Bedford Middle School at 503 Longwood Ave. The building is three stories high with 9,900 square feet on the first floor and 7,250 square feet on each of the other two floors. It has 37 parking spaces and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Proposals on the use of the building must be submitted to the city manager by Friday, April 25. Those proposals should outline the proposed use of the property, including the estimated financial benefit to the city. The proposals also must list the proposed purchase price. A minimum bid of $5,000 was set by the city.
"Given the condition of the building, the age, the limitations on its use, we're basically wide open," Kolakowski said of the process. "We're not really expecting to get a windfall here. This is an old building that needs a lot of work. The key to it is to get something that is a positive but also removes the liability from the city."
Proposals submitted must include a business plan and preference will be given to those that could generate pedestrian traffic and activity to the Centertown area. The RFP directives noted that any proposals should also take into account the fact that the property is next to the middle school.
In late 1999, the city had a structural analysis of the building's condition conducted. At that time problems noted included: some groundwater infiltration, a buckling of some hardwood floors and cosmetic damage. According to that report the supporting structure appeared to be sound and there didn't appear to be any settlement in the masonry wall foundations.
An assessment of the mechanical systems recommended the installation of a new central heating and cooling system as well as a new plumbing system. The majority of the plumbing piping dates back to the early 1900s with most all of the systems at least four decades old.
An electrical system analysis noted that its system was deteriorated and unsuitable for continued use. "Most of the systems' components cannot be properly repaired, as parts are no longer manufactured for them," the report stated, adding that the service is not adequate to support any significant renovation.
An architectural assessment noted that ceilings would need repair, walls would need to be refinished and the majority of the building's floors would need replaced or repaired. The report noted the gymnasium floor was in good condition at that time as was the exterior of the building.
Ten years later the building has only gotten worse.
Kolakowski said the building could be torn down, albeit at a hefty price tag. "It's more a matter that there are people who would like it preserved," he said.
Last summer because the exterior woodwork was rotting the city hired a contractor to remove rotting wood from that area.
Inside, the paint is chipped and peeled. A lowered suspended ceiling that was added in a past renovation is mostly gone.
"I would hate to think of the millions of dollars that it would take to bring it up to code," stated Kolakowski at the time.
The cost of renovating Old Yellow would depend on what it would be used for. The most expensive option would be to use it for a school again and Kolakowski has said that option would be prohibitively expensive.
"It's almost impossible to peg a price without a use," Kolakowski noted at that time.
Operating the building will also be expensive. It has big rooms and high ceilings, which would make it expensive to heat and cool.