PALMETTO -- An old school building up for sale in Palmetto has some unique qualities buyers may find attractive, but what's more unique about the building at 705 10th Ave. W. are its former students.
Built in 1944 with the aid of former Palmetto High School students, the school was constructed so returning World War II veterans could complete their high school educations.
The city took ownership of the property from the Manatee County School District about five years ago, which had ownership since Palmetto founder Samuel Sparks Lamb deeded the land to the
district. At the end of 2014, the city commission sold the property to the community redevelopment agency for more than $20,000.
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The transfer from the school district to the city was part of the complicated deal to construct Little League baseball fields at Blackstone Park, which opened last spring.
The CRA is now two weeks into a three-week request for proposal process to sell the property, which has almost tripled in value from the previous year to more than $60,000, according to the Manatee County Property Appraisers Office.
Sitting on more than a half-acre, the 4,000 square-foot single-story concrete-block structure has potential for redevelopment, adjacent to Sutton and Lamb parks. The CRA is determined to protect the building's historical value to the community.
"We are not interested in seeing it torn down and building something new," said CRA Director Jeff Burton.
"It sill has historical value and we'd like to see it stay as it is," he said, noting preserving the building is a requirement of the RFP.
The building has subtle architectural features that Burton said fits well into the downtown area.
"It's a great location, a beautiful building and has a great history," he said. "We are looking forward to someone with a professional background to take ownership."
The CRA will consider several potential types of new owners, like an art gallery, restaurant, engineering firm, architects, lawyers, physicians and more.
"We're not necessarily looking for the highest bidder in this case," said Burton. "We're looking for the best investment and that includes how many jobs it will create."
The RFP closes next week and there has been interest from the onset. The CRA held a non-mandatory walkthrough Jan. 29 and drew three interested parties.
"Once we get the bids in, a ranking committee will form and they will sit down and rank the bids," he said. "The highest-ranked proposals will come back to the CRA board and once we decide, we'll close on the property.
Prospective bidders can still get into the fray by visiting the city of Palmetto's website at palmettofl.org and click on purchasing department to respond to the RFP.
Mark Young, Herald urban affairs reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7041 or follow him Twitter @urbanmark2014.