The old Salvation Army building near Moore Square may have a second life as an elementary school. School officials at Exploris Charter Middle School are looking at the city-owned site as the new location for its K-5 elementary school.
The City Council’s Budget and Economic Development Committee Tuesday discussed the request, but did not make decisions about a possible lease.
Ben Steel of Empire Properties, the firm representing the charter school, said that the school is interested in a two-year lease for the former Salvation Army building and intends on retrofitting the building to accommodate about 150 children.
Empire has offered a base rent of $1 per year. Steel said ideally, the school would open this fall.
“We’re well aware that this is an aggressive schedule,” Steel said.
Steel said school officials understand that the city has redevelopment plans for the site and considers this a temporary location, but would like the right of first offer or first refusal after the two-year lease is up.
“We’re fully prepared to walk away at the end of two years,” Steel said.
City Manager Ruffin Hall said that it’s important for City Council members to consider the proposed redevelopment of the site as it relates to future plans of the area.
“Once we have a relationship with a fully improved facility related to a school, is that the highest and best use you’d like to see on that particular site?” he said.
While the property is mostly unused, the warehouse will be used as a temporary shelter where charity groups can provide meals on the weekends for the homeless.
The potential lease will be discussed again at the next Budget and Economic Development Committee meeting Feb. 25.