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School trustees, ConoverBond to meet

| March 9, 2006 11:00 PM

The Libby School Board has scheduled a special work session for 1 p.m. on Monday, March 13, to discuss terms of sale of the old high school building downtown with a Spokane development firm interested in renovating the structure.

At a meeting last month, the board rejected two alternate proposals submitted by ConoverBond Development and stood fast on its demand for an outright cash purchase with an asking price of $350,000.

The first option was for the district and the company to form a partnership with the district contributing the old school and ConoverBond renovating and managing the building. A value to be agreed upon by the two parties would be used along with ConoverBond's financial contribution to determine each side's stake in the project. Rental income would be divided based on that stake until the initial investment was returned, then revenues would be split evenly

The second option was for ConoverBond to make a 10 percent down payment followed by monthly payments to the district with interest until the balance was paid off. The price would be determined by an appraisal of the property commissioned by ConoverBond.

Board members agreed that they didn't want to enter into a long-term partnership with ConoverBond and that they want to be rid of the building. They also agreed that they didn't want to sell the property on a payment plan.

The board directed district superintendent Kirby Maki to relay its position to ConoverBond, leaving open the possibility of continued negotiations for an outright cash sale.

ConoverBond, which specializes in redevelopment of historic buildings, is proposing to remodel the old school into professional and government office space. During a phone conference with board members in February, a company representative said talks are ongoing with two private entities interested renting some or all of the building. The Libby City Council has also expressed support for the project and indicated some interest in the potential to move city offices into the renovated building.

The building has been empty since the Lincoln County Campus of Flathead Valley Community College vacated the structure in 2000 to move into the building that had previously been used as the Kootenai National Forest supervisor's office. The school board has moved several times over the past three years toward demolishing the building. A local group, Friends of Historic Libby High School, has lobbied for preservation and offered to buy the building for $100,000, but the offer was rejected by the school board.