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January 08. 2013 10:22PM

Real estate market good to Lebanon School District

LEBANON - A little over a year after placing four Lebanon School District buildings up for sale, two have sold and one is under contract to sell, pending voter approval in March.

The fourth has been taken off the market to be used as the new SAU office.

In fall 2011, the school board's Real Estate Committee placed School Street School, Sacred Heart Public School, and the district's central office on the market. Just before the end of the year the SAU announced it had closed on a deal to sell School Street School to Mike Davidson of local redevelopment company Execusuite LLC.

Superintendent Gail Paludi said Davidson purchased the old school building for $400,000 and plans to let the 1874 building continue its current use as two different school campuses - a Montessori School and the Ledyard Charter School - and a Headstart location.

Execusuite is known for acquiring and renovating historic commercial buildings in the Upper Valley region.

A longtime resident of the downtown neighborhood, Davidson was originally saddened to see the closure of the School Street School.

"I love to go by and see the children playing on the playground. I appreciate Gail Paludi and all the people at the SAU working with us to make this happen," Davidson in the announcement of the sale.

Davidson has also made an offer to purchase the former Lebanon Junior High School building for $851,000.

The sale cannot go through until voters approve the transaction, Paludi said.

At last year's annual meeting, voters were asked to approve the demolition of the building but voted that warrant article down.

"I think there were a lot of mixed feelings. People were not sure. They really wanted the historical nature of the building to be preserved," Paludi said.

Jeff Peavey, a member of the Real Estate Committee, said: "It's not a historical building, but it's got sentimental value in the city. That was once the high school."

Davidson has a lot of ideas for the building, Paludi said, including office space, apartments or possibly a school.

"He's really trying to keep the integrity of the building on the property and just make changes to the inside of the property," Paludi said.

The other two buildings that were up for sale were the former Sacred Heart School building and the former Sacred Heart Convent that were acquired by the school district many years ago.

Lebanon lawyer Peter Decato's law office, Decato Law Office, has a deal with the SAU to purchase the former convent building, which the SAU uses as its office, for $379,000.

The sale will not be finalized until April, Paludi said, when the SAU can move into the former Sacred Heart School building, which has been taken off the market.

"We have to move, and we didn't want to move right in the middle of budget season," she said.

Decato plans to use the building for law or real estate offices, she said.

All of the money brought in from the sale of the buildings is to be used for future school district building improvements, she said.

A fifth school district building in West Lebanon remains shuttered, Peavey said.

This former middle school was closed when the new middle school building was completed last year, he said.

A newly formed theatre/music nonprofit has expressed interest in leasing the building, Peavey said. "So we are going to be looking at that this year."

mpierce@newstote.com



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