Bid on Zena school tops $900K

Zena Elementary HZTKingston City School District Superintendent Paul Padalino is recommending to the Board of Education that bids on two of its vacant elementary schools be accepted, while a third should not.

“My recommendations were to accept the Zena bid and the Tillson bid, and reject the Meagher bid,” Padalino said. Zena Elementary School received the highest bid, $926,000, which came from Potter Realty on behalf of Zena 4 Corners, LLC. Last week, Nan Potter of Potter Realty said she wanted to hold off on publicly discussing the specific plans for the Woodstock-based property until after the district made its determination.

The former Zena Elementary School sits on 23.34 acres of land in a zoning district known alternately as R-8 or LC (a land conservancy zone designation that the town’s zoning law says is generally located in “most environmentally sensitive areas on which it is recommended that building be kept to a minimum,” and is in “visually significant locations in the town.” According to Woodstock town assessor Marc Plate, the assessment of the property is being lowered in the town’s current revaluation, to $3,848,000, from nearly $5.4 million.

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Zena was closed at the end of the 2012-13 school year along with Anna Devine and Sophie Finn as part of a comprehensive redistricting plan meant to “rightsize” Kingston’s schools in the face of a dwindling student population. Frank L. Meagher Elementary, closed following the 2011-12 school year, the first step in that process.

Sophie Finn has been earmarked for use as a satellite campus of Ulster County Community College, with the other three recently closed schools joining Tillson Elementary on the market. Anna Devine has yet to receive a bid, while Tillson was approved for sale last year for $100,000 before the School Board withdrew its approval when the bidder, Chaim Moskovits — who later changed the bid name to Life With Light, LLC — reportedly sought to change the terms of the bid.

Life With Light bid on Tillson this time around as well, but the $65,000 offer was not the highest received. That honor went to Roslyn Heights, N.Y.-based Apollon Group, LLC, which bid $135,000 for Tillson and $220,000 for Meagher, both of which owner George Fakiris said he hoped to turn into rental apartments. Though Padalino recommended accepting the Tillson bid and rejecting the Meagher bid, it’s still possible trustees might accept both. Fakiris made no indication that he would go through with a purchase if only one of his two bids was accepted, and he spoke of the renovation process as two pieces of the same puzzle.

Padalino added that he was “not in favor of reverting to the lower bid” from Life With Light if the potential sale to Apollon didn’t go through.

Woodstock Times went to press before the meeting of the School Board on Wednesday, January 22, so it was still unclear whether trustees would follow the superintendent’s recommendations. Padalino said he wasn’t willing to assume anything.

“We’ll see what happens,” he said. “I am not in favor of giving any predictions.”

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