VOL. 133 | NO. 23 | Wednesday, January 31, 2018
SCS Looking To Move Out of Central Offices Near Fairgrounds
By Bill Dries
Shelby County Schools is in the due diligence phase of a relocation out of its long-time central office near the Mid-South Fairgrounds. And it comes as the city is pursuing a redevelopment of the fairgrounds and areas around it.
SCS board members voted Tuesday, Jan. 30, to give superitendent Dorsey Hopson the authority to negotiate a deal for the school system to buy the building at 3030 Jackson Avenue for a price not to exceed $6.6 million. The deal would be subject to ratification by the school board prior to closing.
The building was previously occupied by Bayer Consumer Health and before that the research and development division of Merck.
Hopson confirmed in a letter to school system employees earlier Tuesday that if an agreement is reached and approved by the board, the school system’s central office would move out of its current location at Avery and Hollywood by the Fairgrounds and bring in central office staff numbering more than 1,000 who work at a dozen other sites across Shelby County.
Hopson says the site “provides us with an incredible opportunity to centralize operations and improve overall efficiency and productivity.”
“From an internal standpoint, the opportunity to bring everyone together on one campus will no doubt improve communication and collaboration,” he added. “The possibility of this relocation would also produce significant savings for the District, allowing us to redirect more resources to our schools and future academic priorities.”
Hopson estimated the school system would save nearly $40 million in deferred maintenance on the set of aging buildings.
He also stressed that the purchase of the Jackson Avenue building is still tentative with a board vote necessary to set the move in motion. There is no timeline or target date for the move.
The school system headquarters at Hollywood and Avery is next to Tobey Park, which Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland and his administration have included in their plans for future redevelopment of the Fairgrounds.
City Housing and Community Development director Paul Young acknowledged Tuesday that the central office site could be a key piece of real estate opening up as the Fairgrounds undergoes a dramatic transformation.
“Their site could provide additional opportunities for development to help grow the revenue base for the proposed tourism development zone,” Young said in a written statement in response to questions from The Daily News.
The TDZ captures an increment of sales tax generated to go toward public improvements of a designated project. The Fairgrounds TDZ the city is seeking activation of is a three square mile area that takes in not only the Fairgrounds but also Overton Square, Cooper-Young and the Union Avenue retail corridor.
The school system owns two parcels of land at the address 160 S. Hollywood St. One parcel is vacant land bought in 1967 by what was then Memphis City Schools from the city of Memphis and now used as parking.
The other parcel that includes the central office building is on 11.71 acres of land.
Also at its first business meeting of the new year Tuesday, school board members approved the sale of 11.98 acres in Capleville where Capleville High School once stood. The land is sold to Speedway LLC for $475,000 with Speedway paying the commission of $29,500 and any closing costs.
The board also approved the demolition of Fairley Elementary School by Barnes and Brower nc for $157,332.
Fairley along with Raineshaven Elementary were closed with the construction of a new and larger Westhaven Elementary School in Whitehaven. Students from those schools were merged into the new Westhaven when it opened in August of 2016.