Wake County School System staff want to add a former YWCA to its land bank for a future school in downtown Raleigh, but Wake County Commissioners aren’t convinced they should lay out the money.
The YWCA on East Hargett and Swain streets filed for bankruptcy in July and the building is for sale.
Typically, the school prioritizes potential properties for future use in areas that currently have, or will have, overcrowding in nearby schools.
But, School District Facilities Manager Joe Desormeaux said the availability of the YWCA was a great opportunity to purchase property inside the Beltline for a reasonable price.
The property was appraised for $1.1 million.
It would cost about $1 million to purchase the 3-acre property. The 8,700-square-foot building would require renovation before use. Or, the district could demolish the building and build a new one.
The site is across the street from the county-owned A.A. Thompson Building that is being retrofitted to be used as the Wake Young Men’s Leadership Academy.
Desormeaux said the school district doesn’t have any concrete plans for the site, but it could be used as a pre-kindergarten or kindergarten center, a Montessori school, a virtual high school or some other kind of college prep academy. It could also be used to expand the leadership academy across the street.
That lack of concrete plans seemed to bother County Commissioners.
“Are we supposed to simply start ignoring the rings and circles y’all bring to us?” said Board Chair Paul Coble.
Coble said the YWCA doesn’t show up on any of the school district’s prioritization plans and staff didn’t express any concern or need for a school in that area.
The YWCA would be added to the district’s land bank, which already has at least 15 properties in it.
Commissioner James West said the area in which the building is located is a redevelopment area for the City of Raleigh and is included in the 2030 Comprehensive Plan for high-density growth. He said the school would be an asset.
Commissioner Tony Gurley asked staff to look at how the site compares with others properties on the priority list. He also asked staff to compare the site with other 3-acre tracts inside the Beltline.
There were also some questions about the asking price and where that money would go. Gurley said that there was about $600,000 going to an unknown source as it is applied during the bankruptcy proceedings.
Coble asked that district staff come back with some more detailed plans for the school’s intended uses and the costs associated with them.
Commissioners also heard requests for the reallocation of funds to pay for the construction of the Wake Young Men’s Leadership Academy in the A.A. Thompson Building and the Wake Young Women’s Leadership Academy at the Governor Morehead School on Ashe Avenue.
The district is asking for about $1.65 million for the men’s academy and about $2.9 million for the women’s.
While the men’s academy will be in a county-owned building, the women’s academy requires a lease extension with the Governor Morehead School for the Blind.
Each of the three requests requires two readings. The second reading and a vote will likely take place at the next board meeting Nov. 19.
All Wake County government offices will be closed next Monday for Veterans Day.