The Anniston City Council Tuesday requested business plans from interested buyers before the members accepted one of the bids for the property, which has been empty since 2004.
The city of Anniston put the building up for bid in early June and took bids through June 14. The city received four bids ranging from $5,000 to $50,000. But when it came time to approve a sale, Councilman Jay Jenkins had reservations.
“I have some problems with our bid process with this,” Jenkins said. “We have no idea based on the bids that we received what are the intentions for use for that facility.”
The school building is still in good condition, according to city administrators, but will deteriorate if it continues to sit unused.
David Schneider, senior director of preservation services for the Alabama Trust for Historic Preservation, said it would be good to see the building used again.
“It’s a good, solid building,” Schneider said. “There’s no reason why it couldn’t be rehabbed, and why would you not?”
The building was determined to be eligible for listing on the National Register of Historic Places in 2010, but no one has applied for it to be placed on the list, Schneider said.
“One developer was interested in possibly using federal tax credits to rehab it, so we wanted to make sure that it would qualify,” Schneider said. “We really haven’t applied. The National Register nomination is a lot more involved.”
But the building should be protected, Schneider said.
“Historic buildings are tangible reminders of the past. It’s much easier to understand how events unfolded when you can kind of stand in places that were associated with those events,” Schneider said.
The building does have such a history, being one of the schools in Anniston ordered closed to enforce racial integration in the school system. It was built in 1926-27 and was used until 1973. Gadsden State Community College leased the building in 1981 and held classes there until November 2004, when it moved to the college’s current location at McClellan.
Jenkins said those intangibles, as well as how the building will be used in the future, should be considered as the building changes hands.
“We should be evaluating these bids based on its use and what is best for the city of Anniston, not just on the dollar value of the facility,” Jenkins said.
The councilmen decided to postpone action on the bids until they had more information. City Manager Don Hoyt isn’t sure how the city will proceed — collect the business plans for the building from the bidders who already bid, take new bids including business plans or some other option. He said he would have to consult with the city attorney.
“These are kind of unusual circumstances,” Hoyt said.
Star staff writer Laura Camper: 256-235-3545. On Twitter @LCamper_Star.