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$475K Bid on former North Road school rejected

Howland board seeks to sell property closer to $565K appraised value

HOWLAND — The school board Monday night rejected a $475,000 bid to purchase the empty North Road Intermediate School building and the roughly 12 acres on which it sits.

The board wants to try to sell the property for closer to its appraised value of $565,000, according to President Julie Altawil.

“We’re not in dire straits that we have to sell it right now,” Altawil said after the board meeting.

Ohio law requires school boards to put properties to auction, but also allows the board to reject the highest bid. After that, other options become available, Superintendent Kevin Spicher said.

The roughly 43,600-square-foot building and land was auctioned earlier this month, sparking a bidding war between the ultimate highest bidder and a group of local restaurant owners who wanted to combine their eateries under one roof in a “farm-to-table” style.

Monday night, the highest bidder, who did not give his name, said of the rejection, “I guess we were surprised. As I understand it, the reason was simply that it didn’t reach the appraised value, so we’ll see what it sells for on the open market.”

During the meeting, auctioneer Darryl McGuire stood up after a motion was on the floor to reject the bid and attempted to present the board with information — and opinions — on the contract. McGuire Auctioneers is the entity that auctioned the building and its contents.

The seemingly confused board let McGuire talk for a moment before Altawil asked him to stop because public comment was not slated for that part of the meeting.

Altawil later said she felt she had the right information — the contract and the appraisal — to make a decision before McGuire started talking.

McGuire mentioned during that brief presentation the building probably would become another school if the contract was accepted.

The top bidder, listed on official documents as the Ohio Historical Building Preservation Company, has been mum about its purpose in pursuing the purchase of the former school but had to submit a letter of intent to the board with its bid. Spicher said the letter wasn’t “articulate” and listed a number of uses. He added the preservation company stated it was buying for another entity.

“So we wouldn’t even have an idea what that entity is until they would disclose that,” Spicher said.

The Ohio Historical Building Preservation Company was formed in 2020 to play matchmaker to “owners of unwanted or underutilized properties” to investors, according to its website.

The next step for the board likely will be hiring a real estate agent to sell the property, although the board made no other official move Monday night.

North Road Intermediate has been out of use for more than two years since the fifth grade moved to Howland Middle School. Profits from its eventual sale will go toward the construction of a new auditorium at the high school, the district has said.

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