Buyers line up for historic Moran School

Four potential buyers of the historic Moran School have stepped forward after the owner of the building on Manitiou Beach Boulevard set an Oct. 1 deadline in an attempt to save it from being torn down.

"It looks like we've got a stay of execution," said Dave Williams, chair of the city's Historic Preservation Commission (HPC). "We've identified four potential buyers and a fifth who might be interested. The next step is for the groups to set down with the owner and try to set a price."

Williams said he couldn't identify the potential buyers, but said two are local educational institutions, one is a not-for-profit organization and the other is an entrepreneur who is interested in possibly renovating the four-story building and then selling it.

The nearly century-old building is owned by Soundcare Inc., which owns and operates the adjacent Messenger House. Soundcare went to the city several months ago for a demolition permit to rid itself of the building. Through decades of neglect, it had to be either renovated or razed because it had become hazardous.

After HPC made a concerted effort to save the building because of its historic value, Soundcare CEO Edwin Wheeler decided in July to delay its destruction for three months.

The assessed value of the .63 acres of land and the building is about $192,000, while the cost of tearing it down is an estimated $100,000. Much of the interior of the building is worth saving, Williams said, but he said it has been estimated it would take in excess of $1 million to renovate it structurally.

Williams said nine groups or individuals had toured the building during the last three months. He said there was no deadline now on when it has to be sold.

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