MGT, the out of town consulting firm that wrote the proposed St. Louis Public Schools Facilities Management Plan is out of touch with reality when it comes to the value of historic school buildings. Of the 30 schools MGT proposes to close, over half are historic structures, many of which were designed by William B. Ittner.
Although the management plan itself clearly states that historic preservation is important to the community and that many people interviewed by the firm, including students, said that SLPS should continue to "use the old buildings because they have a charm about them but they should be renovated and maintained", 5 of 20 "Repurpose Possibilities" (recommendations of what to do with the closed schools) involve demolition.
MGT does not seem to have done their homework when it comes to the value of historic school properties, as they do not mention the millions of dollars of potential income that would come from selling closed schools to developers. 2 of the 20 "Repurpose Possibilities" talk of selling school building for $1.00! This is not the late 1980's, and even LRA no longer sells properties for $1.00! An article in Friday's Post highlights the continued interest by developers in renovating historic school buildings for new purposes using historic rehabilitation tax credits.
Public comments are being taken online about the proposed facilities plan through February 8th. Please take a few moments to tell MGT about the importance of preserving historic school buildings. Click here to read the full draft of the management plan.
In addition to missing the boat on how to properly re-use historic schools, MGT recommends building two new elementary schools as replacements for existing historic schools instead of retaining and renovating existing buildings. Noticeably absent from the management plan is the use of green building practices. Arguably there is no greener way to build than re-using an existing building. It is also less expensive to renovate. MGT's own budget numbers show the range of cost to renovate elementary schools is from $4.0 -9.4 million and the cost to build two new ones: $12.36 million.
Below are photos of schools to be closed under the MGT plan. All photos from SLPS website and Google Streetview