South Pasadena Unified School District officials and Board of Education members continue to explore the possibility of a potential district office exchange or land swap.
A draft Request for Proposal (RFP) has been created and the school board reviewed it during its September 10 school board meeting.
“We discussed a potential timeline in which the RFP could be released, which looks to be in January,” said Geoff Yantz, South Pasadena Unified School District superintendent. “The item will come back as another discussion item next month. The expectation is that in November the board will approve the RFP.”
A request for proposal (RFP) is a business document that provides details about a project and solicits bids from contractors to help complete the project.
Earning the trust of the board to help guide the process is Sam Manoukian from RE/MAX in Glendale who specializes in commercial property transactions. He reviewed the RFP with the board during Tuesday’s Board of Education meeting.
Manoukian, with a proven track record, heads the commercial division for RE/MAX Optima, and has worked in real estate since 1986. Over nearly three decades he has made successful transactions in California and Nevada, along with a select national and international locales.
The board has taken up the project over the past year and has reached the stage of reviewing the RFP in a potential land swap.
“An exchange is one of three or four different options that a school district has for a property transaction,” explained Yantz. “In essence, an exchange occurs when an interested buyer or developer purchases another property which the district has an interest in moving into in exchange for the district property.”
Yantz said the property disposition objectives include:
- To have a safe, energy efficient, and functional administrative office and training facility with 21st century features to house all current SPUSD administrative and SPEF functions.
- To provide physical space for educationally-related support programs and other district administrative needs.
- To promote economic, social, and cultural vitality in the Mission Street corridor in collaboration with the community and the City of South Pasadena.
- To restore and preserve the historic building and architectural heritage.
- To sustain or generate on-going revenue to support the long-term financial health of the District.
The superintendent stressed that the school district, 1020 El Centro Street, is seeking a property with 21st century features for district staff and SPEF operations.
During the school board’s strategic planning session just over a year ago, the school board took up an initiative regarding the district property. Initially, the board began to have discussions on what direction to take while looking at a variety of options before focusing on a possible land swap.
“The idea is that the district would find an interested developer who would purchase another property in which we would be able to relocate to in exchange for the district property,” explained Yantz. “A land swap must be of equal value, however, there are many other options that could occur within that.”
During the school board’s strategic planning session just over a year ago, the school board took up an initiative regarding the district property. Following the summer session, the board began having discussions on what direction to take while looking at a variety of options before focusing on a possible land swap.
Yantz said the motivation behind a land swap is to maximize the district’s assets and finances. “The district office is in need of substantial repair to bring it up to current safety standards,” he said earlier this year. “It also doesn’t meet the needs of district operations. The building has great potential, however it would be very costly to preserve and, therefore, it would allow monies that have been allocated to the district office within the bond measure to be reallocated out to the school sites. Potentially, we’d be able to find a different location or an arrangement which allow someone else to fix up this building.”
To complete the task of finding a location to execute the exchange, Manoukian said a website will be developed to seek interest in an exchange. “We notify all the parties we feel would be interested in looking at this potential exchange,” he explained. “From there, we report back to you every step of the way.”
The RFP doesn’t obligate the school district to take any action after receiving the proposals. “It is all contingent on whether we find the exchange something we would like to do,” said Board of Education President Suzie Abajian.
Manoukian added, “At the end of the day, if we don’t get the terms and conditions, we’re not going to do this.”
Yantz, noting that the approach “seems like the most prudent and cost-effective way to pursue this, says that the idea of swapping land is to ultimately find office space for district employees “that is able to effectively and efficiently administer the school system for many more decades without having to invest millions of dollars and restoring this facility, because it’s money we could spend elsewhere. It could also mean that a developer purchases another site and we could temporarily move into that site. They develop this land, build us something, and we move back in [at this location].”
One of the guidelines of the issue is that the swap must be made in South Pasadena, insisted members of the board and Manoukian, insisting, “That’s non-negotiable, we have one zip code to work with.”