St. Paul’s slanting West 7th Street is known for its multi-cornered intersections, and few are as well-traveled as where the street meets with Montreal Avenue and Lexington Parkway.
But along West 7th, one would be hard-pressed not to notice a triangular parcel of 5.4 acres with two softball fields and a vacant building so old that the words carved into it read Riverside Grade School.
Soon, the St. Paul School District will be offering the site for sale — and the city is expected to have the first crack at it.
On Sept. 22, the school board is expected to give the city 30 days to make an offer. If a deal isn’t reached, it could be on the market by November.
The district is opting to sell the site as it nears completion of a facilities study designed to lay out its building needs over the next 10 years.
Riverside, at 91 years old, is the district’s lone unoccupied building. It no longer is needed for any educational purpose, and it is in the worst condition of any building in the district’s portfolio — “and not by a small amount,” said Tom Parent, the district’s facilities director.
The property is valued at between $5.7 million and $7.2 million for tax purposes. But it also generates more calls from developers than any other school site in the city, according to Parent, who has a market appraisal in hand that he was not prepared to share with reporters.
The site, down the hill from Highland National Golf Course and Circus Juventas, is deemed ideal for high-density housing, but a City Council member also has cited a need for softball fields, Parent said.
Any proceeds would go to the district’s capital needs. In the view of Board Chair Mary Doran, any nickel that the district doesn’t have to raise from taxpayers is a nickel worth pursuing.
Thus far, the district has said it may need a new middle school. Projections show it could be 840 students over capacity in grades 6 through 8 by 2025.
The Riverside site is not an answer, however, because much of the growth is elsewhere and its footprint is inadequate, officials say.
The school board is expected to approve a facilities game plan in December.