The former Highland View Elementary School site will likely be a valuable property someday, said appraiser Matt Terry.
When that day will arrive is another question entirely.
After a year of stagnant interest in the property and continued decay of the building the Gulf County School Board faces a difficult question, one members pondered during a workshop last week.
Appraisals of the property’s value dropped from a year ago.
The level of interest from potential buyers has never been sufficient to suffer a drop off.
The school building itself, now empty for nearly two years since North Florida Child Development, Inc., moved its Port St. Joe school to a new facility, is collapsing.
Maintenance supervisor Greg Layfield told board members his team is in the school on average once a week to shore up some portion of the building.
But holding on to the building of no use to the district makes little sense with facility issues across the county such that the board is increasing for the first time in at least five years the millage assessed for local capital improvement, bricks and mortar.
“I thought there would be a lot more interest in it than there has been,” said Superintendent of Schools Jim Norton. “We need to sell it.”
A year ago, two appraisals pegged the value of the property, which sits on West U.S. Highway 98 with a view of St. Joseph Bay, between $900,000 and $1 million.
The cost of bringing the school building down is estimated at $80,000-$110,000, a cost which in some way would have to factor into any deal, Terry said.
Recent appraisals, Terry said, have dropped.
An appraisal with a timeline of at least 12 months put the value at $710,000 while an appraisal aimed at securing a sale within six months shaved the value to $500,000.
The property would be zoned commercial, Terry said, and right now the commercial market is “stagnant.”
He said the “highest and best use” of the property would likely be a strip mall of shops with an “anchor” business.
“Right now our demographics don’t support that,” Terry said. “You do have a valuable piece of property in the future. Who knows when that will be.”
Norton said the district would continue to advertise the property for sale.
He told board members the district could use the dollars from a sale and could also use to be out from under responsibility for the building sitting on the property.
“We need to get rid of it because we have an outdated building that is collapsing,” Norton said.