In September of 2019, the Monroe School District Board of Directors unanimously approved a directive to have Superintendent Smith sign a letter of intent to enter into an agreement for the lease and/or purchase of a property for use as a new School Administration Office and Community Center. The property, located at 14692 - 179th Ave SE in Monroe, was formerly the home of the Providence medical facility and consists of 2.84 acres of land with a 31,151 square foot building and associated parking.
The facility had sat vacant for many years and was in a state of disrepair. The lease agreement, officially signed by Dr. Smith in January of 2020, included a renovation of the interior of the building with new electrical, plumbing and the construction of office & meeting spaces specifically designed for Monroe School District and greater community's purposes. The monthly rent/purchase price was set to include the cost of these extensive renovations. The lease agreement includes language that the district has the option to buy the property at any time during the lease and it is the board's goal to make this purchase as soon as possible.
The current district administrative office, located at 200 East Fremont Street in Monroe, is a 20,000 square foot former school building, built in 1916. The 104 year old building is in need of many costly repairs, including a complete upgrade of the electrical system, installation of a new heating/cooling system, adequate air ventilation (especially important during the COVID-19 pandemic), the building is not ADA compliant, removal of unsafe building materials, a new roof and windows, and upgrades to the structural integrity of the building. In addition to those repairs, the facility is not designed to meet the needs of the current administrative team; there are no meeting spaces large enough to hold the entire team, there are few meeting and conferencing spaces available, departments are housed where space is available instead of in structured work teams, and parking is inadequate for day to day needs.
The move to the new School Administration Office and Community Center will be staggered and will begin in August 2020. We have received many questions about the relocation of the district administration office and have addressed many of them below:
Q: The $57,000 a month for rent seems very high. Why would the district agree to pay so much in rent?
This rental amount reflects a cost of $1.83 per square foot, which is very competitive for a commercial property that is designed for office use, especially considering that the improved space will include all new materials (as noted above) and will be completely redesigned specifically to meet the needs of the school district.
Q: Why would Monroe School District consider entering into a lease on a property?
The lease agreement is a 'lease until purchase,' meaning the district has the option to purchase the property at any time during the span of the lease. The Board of Directors plans to purchase the facility once necessary resources are secured.
Q: If the former medical building was previously for sale for $3.8 million, why would the district consider paying $11 million to buy the facility?
There are several previous sale prices on county records, one being over $8 million. None of the previous sales prices reflect total demolition inside of the building and a complete remodel that will be designed specifically to meet the current needs of the Monroe School District. The building will be "turn key" ready when the school district begins to use it and the new valuation of the remodeled facility will be more in line with a $11 million dollar purchase price.
Q: Wouldn't it be more cost effective to renovate the current district office building and keep the administrative team there since the district already owns it?
No. As noted above, the renovations needed for the current building are so substantial that it is cost prohibitive to pursue that route. And even if we did so, the building cannot be reconfigured to meet our space needs due to limitations imposed by the load-bearing structural walls.
Q: Why aren't you considering moving Sky Valley Education Center to the medical building instead of the district office?
The current Sky Valley Education Center (SVEC) facility is roughly 90,000 square feet. The former medical building is just over 31,000 square feet and does not provide nearly the amount of space needed for SVEC to run as it is now. There is no outdoor space for students, no gym, etc. that are necessary to be an acceptable option for students.
Q: Why isn't the district moving the administrative office to a building already owned by the district, such as Wagner Center on Main Street?
We do not currently own any other property that is large enough to house the entire district office with ample parking, including Wagner Center. In addition, Wagner Center was designed to serve as a school building which presents different needs than offices. Due to the age of the building, there are limited options to restructure the interior of the building, as is the case with the existing administration building as well.
Q: Why wouldn't the district build a new administrative office on property already owned by the district, such as Memorial Field?
The costs associated with building a new building are greater than this opportunity to purchase a fully remodeled existing building.