MANATEE -- The Manatee County School District has sold its instructional materials center and is in contract negotiations in a renewed attempt to sell the Bill Owens Annex, better known as the "Checkers property."
The school district sold the instructional materials center building at 109 26th Ave. W. to Firkins Nissan in Bradenton for $550,000. Money from the property sale will be restricted to the general fund, which will help the school district rebuild a state-required $10.3 million reserve, said Don Hall, deputy superintendent of operations.
The 22,000-square-foot instructional materials center property is zoned commercial on 7.37 acres. School board chairwoman Karen Carpenter said the center was used for storage primarily, and was a materials distribution center for a time.
Bill Saba, vice president of Firkins Automotive, said the new owners are working on a new roof, taking care of a mold problem and replacing the air conditioning system before making a decision on what to do next with the property.
"We are currently parking cars on part of the property," Saba said. "We bought it for future use and we are not entirely sure yet. We are getting to a point where we can use it. At this moment we can't."
The school board also wants to sell the Bill Owens Annex, a 65,210-square-foot commercial area on the southwest corner of Manatee Avenue and First Street West.
It is often referred to as the "Checkers property" be-cause it once contained a Checkers drive-in before it housed the school district Human Resources Department.
It's back on the market since a $1.65 million dealwith Blackrock Develop-ment fell through in June. Blackrock handles development for PDQ restaurants, a chain of casual quick-service restaurants in North Carolina, South Carolina and Florida.
Tim Vining, Blackrock Development owner, said the location was not accessible enough for their restaurant concept.
Bids for the property have closed, and the district received four responses.
"We cannot say any more because we are currently in contract negotiations," Hall said Monday.
Hall said he expects a sale recommendation to go to the school board at its Aug. 12 meeting.
Erica Earl, education reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7081.