Sheetz may buy old Heights Elementary School for $1M
By Tom Yerace
Published: Tuesday, Oct. 9, 2012, 1:11 a.m.
The old Heights Elementary School might be replaced by a Sheetz Convenience Store sometime next year.
Highlands School Board agreed to hold a vote at its Oct. 15 meeting on authorizing Solicitor Ira Weiss and Business Manager Jon Rupert to negotiate a $1 million purchase agreement with RBG Development Group of Pittsburgh.
On Monday night, Weiss said RBG Development, which expressed interest in the Heights building in September, is acting as the agent for Altoona-based Sheetz.
The board discussed the status of Heights and of the former administrative center along 11th Avenue. Both buildings are in Harrison and have been closed by the school board, which is trying to sell the properties.
Weiss said that Sheetz's interest in the property is contingent upon getting the proper approvals and permits. That includes a change to commercial zoning for the 2.34-acre site, which sits in an R-1 residential zone.
While he said the Harrison Commissioners haven't taken any action on the property, Weiss said, “The township has given indications that they support the development there.”
“The price, which is $1 million, is substantially more than we could get on the open market,” Weiss said.
However, there will be restrictions on how the district can spend the money, he said.
“They have to use the money for debt service or capital projects,” Weiss said. “That's a requirement of the school code.”
The site will remain in a school zone, as Highlands Middle School sits across Freeport Road from it.
That could raise some safety concerns since Sheetz stores, which include multiple gasoline pumps, attract a lot of traffic.
Weiss said those concerns would have to be worked out through the permit approval process with the township and the school district.
Lisa Colautti, Weiss' associate, said RBG is no stranger to this type of situation.
“They have done developments with other school districts, so they know the state school code,” she said.
Weiss said a negotiated sale of school property has to be approved by the Allegheny County Courts, which will require a hearing, in addition to the process for getting the zoning and permit approvals through the township.
Asked how long it might take before the path is cleared for a deal, Weiss said, “I would say at least nine months.”
As for the former administrative center, the board has decided to sell by working through a Realtor. That decision was made because the district advertised the building for sale but received no bids.
The board instructed Rupert to get proposals from three Realtors and bring them back to the board for a decision.
Tom Yerace is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at (724) 226-4675 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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