- Erie School District’s state-mandated financial improvement plan recommmends that it sell unused buildings
- District has two unused buildings left: former Burton and Irving schools
- Burton is for sale again; Irving has been on market for years
Editors note: In a previous version of this posted story, an incorrect address was listed for the former Roosevelt School.
The former Burton Elementary School is for sale once again.
After pulling the 127-year-old building off the market in 2018, the Erie School District has listed Burton, 1660 Buffalo Road, with a real estate company as the district tries to shed the last of its unused schools in line with a recommendation from its state-mandated financial improvement plan.
The school district over the past several years has sold four unnecessary buildings and has three unused properties left — Burton, the former Irving School, which is 124 years old, and a lot next to Irving that the district subdivided.
Burton and Irving closed in 2012 due to declining enrollment. The district in 2017 started a plan to sell its unused properties, using property appraisals to help set sale prices.
The school district is asking $389,000 for the 48,956-square-foot Burton, built in 1894, making it one of the oldest district-owned buildings, and last renovated in 1988.
Burton sits on about 3 acres, according to a listing agreement that the Erie School Board unanimously approved with Howard Hanna Commercial Real Estate at the board’s monthly meeting on April 14. An associate broker with Howard Hannah, Randy Rydzewski, is handling the listing.
The property is zoned R-1A, for traditional single-family residential dwellings, according to the city of Erie zoning map. It includes a 20-space parking lot, according to the listing.
The School Board on April 14 also unanimously approved a resolution that declared the Burton property “unused and unnecessary” under the state school code, a move that allows the school district to sell the building and land.
Burton was an elementary school when it closed. The Erie School District today houses its more than 10,000 students in 16 schools, including 10 elementary schools.
On the market:Erie School District puts schools up for sale in 2017
The School Board took Burton off the market in October 2018 at the request of Erie schools Superintendent Brian Polito. He said at the time that the district might need to use Burton to house students temporarily while the district renovates other schools as part of its $80.8 million construction project, which grew out of a 2018 facilities study.
The district in 2019 launched the $80.8 million plan and has already spent $34 million on repairs and upgrades.
With the renovations well underway, the district reexamined the possible uses for Burton and determined “we are not going to need it as swing space,” said Randy Pruchnicki, who handles real estate matters for the Erie School District as its director of non-instructional support services.
The school district in 2018 had its architects examine Burton to gauge the cost of possible improvements, but no renovations occurred, Pruchnicki said.
The property is currently tax-exempt because the school district owns it. Whether the new owner would have to pay property taxes would depend on the use of the building and land.
Polito, the superintendent since July 2017, has been pushing for the sale of unused property even before the district’s state-mandated financial improvement plan, adopted in 2019, recommended such sales to save money. The district must abide by the plan in exchange for its receipt, starting in 2018, of $14 million in additional state aid each year to stay solvent. The district has used some of the money to finance the renovation project.
Since 2018, the district has sold four unused properties: the former Wayne School, the former Roosevelt School, the district’s former Family Center and its former central kitchen. Still on the market, along with Burton, is the former Irving School, which also was last an elementary school, at 2310 Plum St..
Rydzewski, the real estate agent handling the Burton property, is also handling the Irving property. The 60,633-square-foot building is listed at $449,000 and the1.8-acre adjacent lot, which is subdivided and includes a softball field, is listed at $109,000. The Irving property is zoned R-2, for medium-density residential.
Pruchnicki, of the Erie School District, said the district has received “a lot of interest” in the Irving properties, but “nothing that has led to an offer.”< /p>
He said he is pleased that the district has been able to sell the other four properties, and that he is looking forward to reaching deals on the Burton and Irving properties. If the district reaches deals on those parcels, Pruchnicki said, with a laugh, “I will be happy.”
Properties that have sold
- Former central kitchen, 316 E. 21st St. — Sold in February 2018 for $115,000 to a family interested in starting a catering business. Property is taxable.
- Former Family Center, 903 Payne Ave. — Sold in January 2019 for $500,000 to the Franklin-based Child Development Centers, which operates the Head Start early childhood education program in Erie County. The building was once the American Meter building. Property is tax-exempt.
- Former Wayne School, 650 East Ave. — Sold in August 2019 to the new Erie Center for Arts and Technology, which is renovating the building for after-school programs and adult education classes. Wayne was erected in 1917 and the Erie School District closed it in 2017 as part of its reconfiguration. Property is taxable.
- Former Roosevelt School, 2300 Cranberry St. — The school district in November reached a deal to sell the dilapidated building for $246,500 to Child Development Centers, which plans to erect a preschool on the property. The school district paid a contractor $379,000 to demolish the building, which was erected in 1922 and closed in 2007 due to its poor condition and declining enrollment. The demolition of the building was done in March, and the district anticipates the real estate closing to occur within a month, said Neal Brokman, the school district’s executive director of operations.
- In an earlier deal, the school district In 2013 sold the former Glenwood Elementary School, at 3503 Peach St., for $1.17 million to the Erie Federal Credit Union, which opened its new branch there in 2017. The district closed Glenwood in 2012, along with Burton and Irving schools. The credit union spent $7.5 million renovating the Glenwood building. Property is taxable.