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Interest shown in former school

No offers yet for Jansen Avenue building

December 3, 2011
By MICHAEL ANICH , The Leader Herald

JOHNSTOWN - The former Jansen Avenue Elementary School has been closed nearly 2 1/2 years, but Greater Johnstown School District Superintendent Robert DeLilli said Friday there has been recent interest in the building.

He said Friday "a couple of parties" have recently toured the former school building but no one has yet submitted any bids to buy it. He said he wasn't sure who the interested parties are.

"We have maintained it," DeLilli said of the school. "We're hopeful one of the parties will make an offer."

The Coldwell Banker Arlene M. Sitterly Inc. real estate agency in Johnstown is working for the district on a commission basis and notifies the district when there is interest shown in the old school.

Meanwhile, the district has to continue to pay for the building's upkeep. DeLilli said it is used mostly for storage.

The city school system paid almost $25,000 in annual utility costs for Jansen during the 2009-10 school year, district Business Manager Alice Sise said Friday. That figure comprised $15,000 in gas costs and $9,700 for electricity. Utility costs for the 2010-11 school year were unavailable.

Jansen Avenue Elementary School was opened in 1966, but its enrollment dropped 24 percent from 1998 to the time it was shut down June 26, 2009. District officials vacated the building for budgetary reasons, saving about $900,000 with the closure, officials said at the time. But the district still has to maintain the Jansen building yearround, as it looks for a buyer, and the cold winter season has already begun in the area.

Board of Education President Paul VanDenburgh said Friday the district still wants to get something for the school.

"It's for sale," he said. "I guess we would entertain a lease."

VanDenburgh said there is a utility cost to maintain the building. He said district Director of Facilities and Operations Leo Loveless indicated the Jansen building should be set at 50 degrees internally during the winter.

"We'll keep the heat at a minimum setting just so the pipes don't freeze," Sise said.

The district has been using part of the building for storage space, and other parts of it for activities such as elementary school basketball.

District officials initially showed interest in leasing just the 32,317-square-foot building. The entire Jansen property is assessed at about $1.3 million. But that includes the surrounding site with various playgrounds off Briggs Street, which the district says are not for sale or lease.

There has been some past interest in the former elementary school, but nothing has come to fruition.

Fulton-Montgomery Community College President Dustin Swanger said Friday the college wasn't one of the entities showing interest. He noted he toured the school more than a year ago because FMCC was at the time interested in off-campus property to possibly expand classroom space. But the college never submitted a lease proposal to the district, and Swanger said the college is no longer interested.

The Albany Roman Catholic Diocese also showed early interest in the former school building, touring the facility, but it never followed through with an offer.

Michael Anich covers Johnstown and Fulton County news. He can be reached at



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