SLU vies for old school property

With the site of its future arena yet to be decided, Saint Louis
University is looking into purchasing land that could fill in
another piece of the property puzzle.

On Oct. 3, the building that formerly housed the Waring Academy
of Basic Elementary Instruction went up for sale. The school,
located at 25 S. Compton Ave. behind the University’s tennis
courts, was one of 16 schools closed in the summer of 2003 by the
St. Louis City Public School Board.

“Saint Louis University is interested and intends to submit a
contract on the Waring School property,” said Kathleen Brady, vice
president of Facilities Management and Civic Affairs. “The
University’s interest is driven by the fact that the Waring School
property lies within our master-plan boundaries … regardless of
the final determination on the location of the arena.”

While SLU continues to raise money for the arena, its location
has yet to be officially determined. The Grand Center site, north
of Olive Boulevard, has been hindered by the location of the Drake
Plaza Apartments, which is on the National Register of Historic
Places. One of SLU’s other options is to build on the current site
of the ballfields, on the east end of campus. The Waring property
is adjacent to this site.

The property is listed at $1 million, according to a commercial
broker at Hilliker Corporation, the real estate firm representing
the school board. Competitive contracts for the 2.2-acre lot are
due by Oct. 24, the agent said. Hilliker will then take the top
three contracts and allow them to bid on the property.

“There is a ton of interest on Compton,” the agent said.
“Everything from developers wanting to build lofts to people who
want to keep it as a school. I can’t say what [SLU’s] level of
interest is.”

George Hyram, Ph.D., executive vice president of Harris Stowe
State College, said that although the college would like to have
the property due to its prime location, it will likely come down to
a competitive purchasing situation. In that case, the one who
presents the best price will win.

“There have been no efforts on our part to acquire the school,”
Hyram said.

Brady could not comment on Harris Stowe’s interest.

The 38,000 square-foot school building closed in July 2003.
Waring, a magnet elementary school, had a capacity level of 298
students, but only held a 52-percent occupancy rate. The
63-year-old building was also in need of air conditioning and other
maintenance. The decision to close the building created a savings
of $626,643.

Along with the property on Compton, Hilliker is also
representing two other properties vacated by the school board that
are near SLU. One is a 1890s mansion located at 1520 S. Grand
Blvd., listed at $250,000. The other is located at 1517 S. Theresa
Ave., listed at $750,000.