The Dallas School Board listened to – and raised substantial questions about – a proposal to develop the decaying former Dallas Twp. School building through a complex arrangement with a private developer and federal tax credits.
Dave Yeager of Radnor Property Group LLC outlined the plan, which would require the board to declare the building unused and unnecessary. It would then be sold to a private entity formed by Radnor, but the district would retain ownership of the land and lease that land to the entity.
Radnor would get the building declared historic and eligible for federal tax credits, which would then be sold to a large investor seeking such tax breaks. The money from the sale of the credits would probably cover about 20 percent of the redevelopment costs, Yeager said.
Radnor would renovate the building within strict criteria overseen by the National Park Service to retain the historic value, probably making part of it a day care center and the rest offices. The district could rent up to 50 percent of the renovated building space if it wanted to.
After the value of the tax credits expired in about five years, the district could buy the building back at the new market value less the 20 percent saved through the process, Yeager said.
School Board Solicitor Bill Jones III said the biggest hurdle was declaring the building unused and unnecessary, then selling it while keeping the land. Jones said he believes the state law governing school district property sales could pose a major hurdle.
Yeager said the deal would be similar to what Radnor is doing with King’s College in Wilkes-Barre in developing the property along North Main Street that used to house a commercial press and Rodano’s restaurant. But he conceded that is not exactly similar to working with a school district, and that he wasn’t sure how the state school code would apply to the deal
The board asked Jones and Yeager to research the idea further and see if it was legally feasible.
The board also heard from architect Bob Nesbit regarding renovations at Wycallis Elementary, where most of the work is done, as well as on a new baseball field that should be near completion in two or three weeks.
A water line being run to the existing school campus, needed because of problems with water at the high school, should also be done by the time students return from Thanksgiving vacation.