March 15 2013 12:00 AM

Lansing School Board wants to avoid a Niowave-like situation as it considers selling excess property


Friday, March 15 — A medical laboratory has offered to buy a vacant school building from the Lansing School District. As the school board discussed the sale at a work session Thursday night, some members wanted to make sure the company wouldn't expand on the site with an unsightly addition like Niowave Inc. did in the Walnut Neighborhood.

The school district received an offer from PSO Laboratory to buy Moores Park Elementary School, 316 Moores River Drive, for $260,000, which is the assessed market value, Superintendent Yvonne Caamal Canul said. The company wants to use the building as a medical laboratory. PSO will need to have the building rezoned before the district will finalize an offer. The school has been closed since 2009.

"We're bringing this forward to you because we think it's a good offer," Caamal Canul said.

Board member Rachel Lewis wanted to make sure PSO would be a "good neighbor" and wouldn't build a "pole barn" like Niowave did in the Walnut Neighborhood.

Caamal Canul assured her that “the city learned a valuable lesson on zoning issues” because of the Niowave pole barn fiasco, and she didn’t think it’d be a problem.

The Moores Park Elementary sale was one of two offers before the Board for former schools.

The other piece of real estate business involved the sale of the former Genesee School, 825 W. Genesee St. The building is the former home of the Black Child and Family Institute. Although the offer is only for $1, Caamal Canul said the cost of utilities cost the district $50,000 a year. She said the district would be saving money by selling off the building.

The nonprofit Zero Day wants to use the property for helping veterans by providing housing and work training. It's uncertain exactly how the group will redevelop the school or what the future is for Closing the Digital Gap, which occupies space in the building. A neighborhood meeting Thursday night at the school included Zero Day representatives looking for feedback about what neighbors would like to see. Officials said details of the redevelopment wouldn't get started until after the school district approves the sale.

"We're very excited about them taking over this historic site," Caamal Canul said. "The neighborhood is also extremely excited."

The board could vote on the offers at its regular meeting Thursday.