The San Antonio Independent School District announced plans Thursday to hold a sealed bid sale of its major downtown properties and acreage located on the city’s Southside and Eastside, and use those proceeds to construct a new downtown central office.
As San Antonio’s largest inner city school district, SAISD plans to sell enough real estate holdings to finance a new central office big enough to consolidate 1,200 district workers currently scattered around seven different sites in the district, as first reported by the Rivard Report in January.
The sealed bid sale of the properties also will fund a service center for transportation and maintenance, which district officials say is needed for cost-effective and efficient district operations. The new central office and other facilities is expected to cost $30 million, according to one unofficial estimate made by a district source, and save the district $2 million a year by eliminating operational inefficiencies.
District officials expect the major real estate undertaking to be revenue neutral, meaning all new costs will be funded through property sales and will not involve funds used to operate district schools and programs. The project will not result in any property tax increases.
No timeline was given for construction of the new facilities, which will be located on the site of the former softball field at Fox Tech High School. The school’s other sports facilities, including its football field, are now officially for sale.
A portion of the nearly eight-acre parcel of the Fox Tech campus had previously been identified as the future site of the University of Incarnate Word’s medical school, which ultimately was located at Brooks City Base. The same land parcel also has been mentioned as a possible site for a Triple-A baseball team if the owner of the San Antonio Missions can be persuaded to sell or relocate his Double-A club and allow a Triple-A team to be moved here. Several downtown real estate sources say such an outcome is unlikely.
“(The current situation) is not ideal for parents wanting to talk to more than one department,” said Leslie Price, SAISD executive director of communications, commenting on the district’s widely dispersed administrative staff.
The administrative offices at 141 Lavaca St. and 406 Barrera St are not part of the current sell off. Administration officials did not say how those properties will be used after a new central office is built.
“The current bid process of the other properties will help us evaluate market conditions and prices to make future determination as to the potential of a sale of the Lavaca building,” said Price.
The Lavaca building may have seemed like a more natural location for the new central offices, as an expansion of the older building, however, the lot and location made it cost prohibitive.
“We did look into the feasibility of (expanding current offices on Lavaca St.), and found that it would be a much higher cost to build here, due to requirements related to the historic buildings we have on this property, and also the irregular share of the lot that would be available for us to build upon,” said Price.
The building on Barrera Street is not being considered for sale at all, said Price.
The new central office will enable the district’s leadership to project a more professional image and underscore the importance of the district to the inner city’s future growth and development. SAISD Superintendent Pedro Martinez was recruited last year to spearhead the major undertaking of improving educational outcomes in the district. His plans include recruiting greater support for the district from the civic and business community.
The district announced plans earlier this week to open new high performance K-12 campuses. Click to Read: Advanced and Creative Learning Schools to Serve 1,600 Students in SAISD
The new central offices will be located on the former Fox Tech softball field, and the transportation and maintenance center will be located next to the bus depot on Roland Road. Price said the timeline for the new construction will not be set until the sale of the properties takes place.
“We’re committed to a level of excellence not only through our curriculum, but also in the manner in which we operate and manage our fiscal resources,” said Kamal ElHabr, SAISD associate superintendent of facilities.
The sale includes the district’s property on North Alamo and North Austin streets; the Gonzales Center at 518 E. Magnolia Ave; its Food Services warehouse; Fox Tech High School football and baseball fields; lots on South Presa Street; and a vacant 12.79 acre lot at 4911 Lord Road, located in Eastside San Antonio.
Two of the properties run along the lower Broadway corridor, which is currently experiencing a boom of multi-family and commercial development. A large building at 1702 North Alamo St. currently houses facilities, technology, and district police, as well as several other departments. Building at 1110 and 1103 Austin St. houses plant maintenance and dispatch offices. All of these departments would move into the new facility on Roland Road.
Downtown properties are also in areas experiencing recent revitalization. The Gonzales Center houses government and community relations, and sits across from Hemisfair. The 50 acres at 9087 and 9093 S. Presa are southwest of Mission Academy near the Loop 410 interchange, and have no association with the school. None of the properties are recent purchases, according to Price.
The Fox Tech fields cover approximately eight acres, and sit across North Flores Street from the school. Fox Tech does not have large sports teams, and the fields have not been utilized. Even with the sale, the remaining 12 acres will be sufficient for central offices, the school, and parking.
The food service building is located at 2 Haven For Hope Way. The district will lease a replacement warehouse.
“We’ve looked at different options over the years,” said Price, “Now we think with the market, we think this could work.”
The prime location and rising property values of several facilities led district officials and trustees to decide the time is right for the sale and new construction.
“Thanks to increased property values, a sale of these assembled parcels is projected to yield enough funds to construct the consolidated administrative office complex, a one-stop resource center for District employees and parents, as well as a service center for transportation and maintenance,” said ElHabr.
The sealed bid process will be released by the SAISD administrative staff and Transwestern Commercial Real Estate Services, a national commercial real estate firm. Transwestern’s San Antonio office includes Larry Mendez, Russell Noll, and Brad Kaufman who expect the sealed SAISD process to start as soon as March 28.
For additional information on the release of the request for sealed-bid, please contact Transwestern at (210)341-1344.
*Top Image: 518 E. Magnolia St is one under-utilized district property SAISD will sell. Photo by Kathryn Boyd-Batstone