Gary Schools gets just 1 bid for shuttered properties

By The Associated Press

GARY — Only one of 33 shuttered schools that the financially struggling Gary school district put up for sale has received an officer, according to the district’s emergency manager.

The city of Gary bid $100,000 for the Benjamin Franklin Elementary School property, which is about $1.3 million less than the initial asking price, The (Northwest Indiana) Times reported.

That bid was the only offer made during the initial round of bidding, which ended Friday and was limited to local taxing units, said Peggy Hinckley, the emergency manager for the Gary Community Schools Corp. A second bidding phase that’s open to the public will end Aug. 24.

No decision has been made on whether to accept the city’s low bid, Hinckley said. The district isn’t in an emergency timeline and will “let the process play out,” she said.

“One thing I’ve learned from this is patience,” Hinckley said. “The last thing we want to do is panic and auction off properties. That would be a mistake.”

The district hopes to sell the properties to responsible buyers and developers before turning to the last resort of an auction, she said.

“The problem with auctions, you lose control of the properties,” Hinckley said.

District board members raised concerns at a recent fiscal meeting that the prices for the shuttered schools were inflated or unrealistic, Hinckley said. Assessment values for eight properties have since been lowered.

Acquiring the Benjamin Franklin Elementary School property would help the city apply for a $30 million Choice Neighborhoods grant, said Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson. The city hopes to use the property as part of a multi-use development and affordable housing in the area.

More on