The Encinitas Union School District Board of Trustees approved a long anticipated deal to sell during a special meeting August 14. The 3-1 vote, with trustee Marla Strich absent was just the beginning of a series of steps including securing permits and zoning changes that must be taken before construction can start on the planned arts center development.
The trustees initially to enter into negotiations with a group to sell the Pacific View Elementary site. But since then, the two parties had yet to agree on the particulars of the deal and negotiations resulted in significant delays. “This took a lot longer than I thought (it would),” trustee Carol Skiljan said at the meeting.
Three groups out of 15 original proposals were selected to make their pitch to the trustees during the February meeting.
San Diego-based non-profit Art Pulse was chosen in part because the group plans to purchase the site for $7.5 million and has some funds on hand. "As a school board, we have to be fiscal stewards of the district and protect our kids and their education," board President Emily Andrade said at the February meeting. She echoed those sentiments last night. “We can’t give the property away, that would be irresponsible,” she said.”
and the were also in the running. Both offered to lease the 2.8-acre oceanfront parcel. Trustee Maureen Muir supported Envision the View’s plan to turn the site into a community center.
Located on Third Street between E and F Streets, the modest school is surrounded by commercial buildings and smaller homes, with a few exceptions. It closed due to declining enrollment in the area in 2003.
The property was gifted to the city in 1883 for a school site. The original schoolhouse is located to the west of the property and houses the
While several proposals have been tossed around regarding the future of the site, none have been met with success. In 2005, an advisory committee was created consisting of various stakeholders. An initial proposal to build a medical complex with office space and condos was met with disapproval by the downtown community.
The school board sued the city after the from semi-public to residential last year. Superintendent Timothy Baird said the board would drop the suit if negotiations with Art Pulse were successful.
Baird said the sale was complex prior to the board’s vote. “There are a lot of pieces to this,” he said. “We are asking for money up front to enter into escrow.” “You’ve got to do it right. We’d like this to be a win-win for everyone”
said the organization was negotiating to lower the $400,000 deposit to $300,000. Game said local developer John DeWald was paying $300,000 towards the deposit. “If they (the district) lower the amount to enter into escrow then Art Pulse can focus on fundraising for the other costs (of the project),” she said.
He has also agreed to pay $3 million of the total purchase price of $7.5 million. In return, Game said DeWald would own part of the land in order to develop single-family homes.
“Art Pulse will only have to come up with $4 million plus the construction costs,” Game said.
DeWald said in an interview before the meeting that the residential component of the project was in keeping with the surrounding community. “The single-family homes will fit into the neighborhood and act as a buffer between what’s already there and the new arts center.”
The school board agreed to accept a $300,000 deposit, due by Oct. 30, as a condition to into escrow. Muir questioned whether the organization could pull out of the deal without any consequences prior to the deadline. The district’s attorney confirmed that no penalties were in the agreement if Art Pulse decided not to move forward before Oct. 30.
The deal could also net additional funds for the district if and when the residential developments are sold. Each home sold would net the district $30,000. “The additional consideration on the houses makes this (deal) fair,” Skiljan said.
Game plans to involve the community in various planning meetings and initiate a capital fundraising campaign. According to the organization’s tax returns, it took in just over $98,000 in 2010 and has run at a deficit since 2008. Game said a large loan given to the organization by one of it’s board members was going to be partially forgiven. She estimates the cost of arts center construction, including permits to range from $5 to 12 million.
The city’s director of planning, Patrick Murphy said the organization has submitted an request to submit an application to amend the specific plan to create a new zone for the property. “An applicant must first request council to allow it to submit a formal application to change the zoning,” Murphy said in a previous interview.
Game said the “arts center zone” would allow for artists in residency, retail, studios and a café. “This is good news for the longevity of the property, for the community,” she said. Several artists spoke in agreemnt at the meeting. After hearing the calls for a dedicated arts space, trustee Gregg Sonken agreed. “It looks like we’ve got a lot of artists looking for a home,” he said.