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Trustees plan counteroffer on old school

| April 4, 2007 12:00 AM

By GWEN ALBERS Western News Reporter

Libby School Board plans to make a counter proposal to a Kalispell developer who last week offered $128,000 for the old high school.

The board is likely to ask for more when it makes a counteroffer during an agenda meeting at 4:30 p.m. Tuesday, April 10, in the Central Administration Building. The meeting is open to the public.

A committee of the school board met Thursday after Bryan Scott, an investment executive with Flathead Financial Group, offered to buy the downtown building. Scott plans to renovate the vacant 90-year-old building on Mineral Avenue next to the Memorial Center into 12 to 14 office suites. The project would require replacing the floors, ceilings and interior walls; the only thing salvageable is the building's exterior.

The committee of school board members Lee Disney, Gela Koehler and Kate Huntsberger suggested changes to the offer. Disney also suggested the sales agreement stipulate that the building is being sold to Scott for renovation purposes only.

"We're not looking for someone to buy it and tear it down," said district superintendent Kirby Maki.

Koehler also expressed concern about the developer re-selling the building.

"I wish we had some control," she said. "We don't want a casino, or a house of prostitution or a naughty shop."

Maki noted that Scott has said if he can't salvage the building, he would sell it back to the school or the city of Libby.

Also in the initial offer, Scott proposed not paying the district for the building until after the renovation is completed or by May 1, 2009, whichever comes first. He proposed that payment would be interest-free.

The committee did not accept the proposal.

It was suggested the developer put down a non-refundable 10 percent deposit when the agreement is signed with the balance due in 90 days.

Scott also proposed that expenses incurred to weatherize the building to prevent further damage and any cost of more than $30,000 to remove asbestos should be reduced from the purchase price.

The committee said "no."

"I don't see any reason we should have to live with that," Disney said. "I don't see how that is any advantage to us."

Scott based his offer of $128,000 on a recent appraisal. A Missoula company that appraises historic buildings determined the property occupied by the school is worth $240,000. Demolition costs for the building are estimated at $120,000, resulting in an "as-is" value of $120,000 for the building and lot.

Huntsberger and school board member Jim England said Scott's offer was too low.