Giancola offers $50,000 for Dana Building
By Josh O’Gorman
STAFF WRITER | March 01,2013
The Giancola Family of Companies has offered $50,000 to buy the Dana Building, but it is uncertain who would receive the proceeds: the city or the school district.
School Board member and Building Committee Chairman Wayne T. Cooke made the announcement during Tuesday’s School Board meeting.
“It’s the first and only offer on the property, and it would be sold as is with no contingencies,” Cooke told the Board.
In June, the Rutland City School District put the building on the market for $290,000. Built in 1927, the building — located at 41 East Center St. — served as a neighborhood school for many years and most recently was the home of the Rutland County Head Start program before fire-code violations forced its closure in 2011.
According to the City Assessor’s Office, the two-story, 27,000-square-foot building sits on 1.79 acres. The lot by itself is assessed at $84,900, with the entire property valued at $257,400.
By all accounts, the building is in poor shape, with no public funds going into capital improvements since 1997. Cooke told the Board the district has received an estimate of $250,000 to demolish the building and could sell the lot for between $85,000 and $100,000.
“That would put the transaction in the red,” Cooke said.
Joe Giancola, co-owner of the Giancola Family of Properties, said he has no plans to demolish the building.
“It’s going to be returned back to what it was: a nice, old historic building,” Giancola said, while expressing uncertainty about its future use. “We could put in some offices and some apartments. You never know what people need until you fix up a space and make it available.”
Also uncertain is where proceeds from the sale will go. When the school district put the building on the market, Mayor Christopher Louras met with the School Board to discuss directing the money to the city for capital improvements.
“My position has not changed on that,” Louras said Tuesday. “From a municipal standpoint, I contend that all school buildings are property of the city and it will be up to the Board of Alderman to approve the sale and decide where the money will go.”
Peter Mello, chairman of the Rutland City School Board, expressed a different position.
“It’s still our contention that the proceeds should go to the school district for deferred capital improvements,” he said.
A June 25 email from Mark Ottinger, general council for the Vermont Department of Education, to Rutland City School’s lawyer William Meub, appears to support Mello’s position.
“Vermont law requires that the proceeds of such a sale remain in the education side of the ledger,” Ottinger wrote. “Those funds would then be considered revenues when the following year’s school budget is created, and should not be transferred to the municipal side of the ledger. To do otherwise would be to distort the constitutionally-mandated and court-ordered statewide education tax system.”
The district will hold a meeting to get comments from the public on the potential sale at 6:30 p.m. March 19 in the Longfellow Administration Building at 6 Church St.