An offer of $6.75 million for the West Allis-West Milwaukee School District administration office, the building housing the alternative school and the area between the two was approved by the school board Monday.
The buyer is Milwaukee-based Cobalt Partners that is doing a massive retail, restaurant, residential and office project in Greenfield. The company plans to buy the administration building, 1205 S. 70th St., the learning center building at 1135 S. 70th, and the area housing the Allis Chalmers Room in between them at 1139 S. 70th St. Included in the sale is the parking garage at 7021 W. Washington St. Cobalt has 180 to study the site and make sure it can carry out its plans.
It is likely that some of the district offices would move back to the former district office building, 9333 W. Lincoln Ave. That is where the new district health clinic is located. There is no information about whether the building would need to be remodeled to accommodate the district offices again.
There are several options as to the future of the learning center.
The multi-story district office building, that formerly housed the Allis-Chalmers executive offices, and the other buildings were for sale because the district had two years of deficit spending before the current administration took over. The red ink totaled $14 million, draining the district's reserves. To climb out of that pool of red ink, school officials drastically tightened the budget belt and put all unused school properties onto the market that were not there already.
The former Roosevelt Elementary School sold last year.
The vote to accept the offer was 7-1, with Gail Radonski casting the only no vote. She could not be immediately contacted for comment.
Board member Sue Sujecki who was among the members who originally voted to buy the buildings joined the majority voting to sell. The district bought them, expecting them to be money-makers with minimal maintenance, she said. It didn't turn out that way and as tenants left, the space was used for district purposes, she said. The buildings still somewhat pay for themselves now but are not the money makers officials had hoped, she said.
However, the experiment on behalf of taxpayers has not been costly, she said.
"We bought and sold the buildings for about the same amount," Sujecki said. "We tried something that would be in the best interest of the taxpayers and it was in the interests of Dotke (the former name of the learning center)."
It is concern about unanswered questions as to the learning center's future that prompted board member Gail Radonski to cast the only no vote. "There are too many unknowns, and that makes me cautious."