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Plans could repurpose Hudson Middle School while saving 1927 facade

By TIM TROGLEN Reporter Published: April 30, 2017 12:12 AM
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HUDSON -- There was good news at the April 24 Board meeting for those residents rallying around the preservation of Hudson Middle School and its 1927 original facade.

According to a list of options announced by Superintendent Phil Herman, it appears, at least for the foreseeable future, Hudson Middle School will not be demolished. And according to Paul Siemborski, an architect with Westlake Reed Leskosky, the building, with some tender care and renovation tweaks, it could last another 100 years.

The 1927 portion of the building may also be a candidate for funding due to its historical significance, Herman said. Papers have been filed with the Ohio Historic Preservation Office to see if the building is eligible.

The fate of the middle school has been in the forefront of talks dealing with the district's Master Facilities Plan. The plan, updated last year, discussed the demolition, which could be at least 10 years away, of Hudson Middle School, which was originally constructed in 1927.

Hundreds of community members and former students rallied around an effort to save the school, specifically the original 1927 facade. Efforts included public meetings, a flood of social media information and a petition to save the school.

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On April 24 Herman gave a PowerPoint update to those in attendance on a recently completed 1927 portion of the building feasibility study and a variety of other planning updates.

"We are not making any final decisions tonight or are we taking a final vote on the Master Facility Plan," Herman said.

The district commissioned a study on alternative use of the building. The study was recently completed by a group recommended to the Board by the Hudson Heritage Foundation -- Westlake Reed Leskosky.

According to Siemborski his firm was retained to determine if the building was sound and if it could be repurposed.

One way to save the structure is to get it historical status.

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"If a building is on the National Register then it becomes eligible for historic tax credits," Siemborski said. "And if a building becomes eligible for historic tax credits, those credits are about 20 percent."

Also, to tear down a sound building is like throwing away about 25 percent of its value, he said. If a building is sound, it already has inherent value, at about 25 percent, Siemborski said.

According to Siemborski the 57,000 square foot building is still sound with several interesting features.

Siemborski called the auditorium "fantastic" and said that no matter what the school is used for, a use for the auditorium should be found.

Siemborski's group came up with three options so far, but suggested there could be many more "big picture" options.

The options included renovate the middle school for residential use, renovate for offices for Hudson City Schools / conference center and renovate for offices for Hudson City Schools/community center. Demolition was not an option.

"Is this building worth saving? Does this building have good bones? Can it be repurposed into other use?" Siemborski asked. "I think 'yes' to all of those."

Each use would have its own cost associated with it, he added.

Siemborski showed about 25 slides illustrating his points on how the building could be repurposed for residential or use, including a large space for some sort of social interaction, including office spaces on the second floor.

To repurpose the building for each use would cost about $10 million.

"Just think of 57,000 square feet divided by $10 million, and you are less than $200 per square foot," Siemborski said.

Herman said he was excited that the 1927 facade still has viable use.

"This feasibility study has shown me that," Herman said.

Herman also said that the plans show that the district cannot do the project on its own. The district cannot afford to use $10 million to $12 million to renovate the school.

"We would need concerned partners," Herman said.

According to Herman, relocating middle school students to different locations while the building is renovated, would be too difficult and he does not believe he will recommend the building be renovated and continue to be used as the middle school.

The Board is looking into options with GPD to relocate the middle school and repurpose the existing building as well as tailing with the Ohio facilities Construction Commission to see what financing breaks and options are available, according to Business Manager Derek Cluse.

Several parents spoke during the public comments portion of the meeting wth most happy the building was not going to be demolished at this time.

One parent was concerned that more time was not taken to consider turning the building into a performing arts facility. The man said he wants to encourage the Board into some sort of performing space instead of offices and apartments.

Another speaker was worried about a maintenance fund.

Herman said that each building owned by the district is maintained.

Herman said the entire presentation will be on the Master Facilities Plan which can be accessed from the homepage of the Hudson City School website.

Email: ttroglen@recordpub.com

Phone: 330-541-9435

Twitter: @Trog_RPC

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