Davidson officials plan to meet the town’s growing public facility space needs through the purchase of a vacant school that’s owned by Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools.
This week the CMS board approved the sale of the former Davidson International Baccalaureate Middle School and its 5.1 acres to the town for nearly $2.5 million. The sale now needs to be approved by the Mecklenburg County Commission.
As the town’s population has grown, so has the need for more space for city offices, says Assistant Town Manager Dawn Blobaum.
“The Fire Department and Police Department are in the same building but public works and parks and recreation are in a different building,” says Blobaum. “Having everybody in the same building would work best.”
Blobaum is not sure that can be totally accomplished with the purchase because the school and its gymnasium, built in 1948, are listed as historic landmarks by the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Historic Landmarks Commission. She says there are limitations on what can be done to the building. Any changes would need to be approved by the commission.
“We can’t clear the site and build what we want, but because that building has been in the town so long and is part of the history here, we don’t want to tear it down."
She says Davidson will hold public hearings before drawing up master plans. Blobaum says it will take about a year-and-a half to approve all of the plans needed for the project, with renovations starting around mid-year 2020.
CMS closed Davidson IB in 2011 and moved the magnet program to JM Alexander Middle School. Lake Norman Christian School leased the building until June of this year.
Davidson officials initially planned to lease the property from CMS and share space with the school district. That project came with a $15 million price tag, contingent on passage of a bond referendum.
“With us purchasing the site, we’ll own the entire site and this won’t be a lease purchase anymore, so those plans were put aside,” Blobaum says. “We don’t have a master plan in place yet, so we have no idea what this will cost. The (Davidson) board (of Commissioners) will decide if we will do a bond referendum next year or finance it with loans or in other ways.”
The county commission is expected to vote on the sale next month.