Local school and out-of-state development officials remain tight-lipped on the status of the $275,000 sale of the historic Calkins Building.
In January, the Montezuma-Cortez Re-1 school board voted unanimously to sale the former schoolhouse to the Kansas City-based Calkins Redevelopment Corp. Nearly five months later, a sales contract has yet to be finalized, and the downtown building remains boarded up.
“Nothing has come through as far as a deed,” a records clerk with the Montezuma County Assessor’s Office said this week. “We haven’t seen anything in our office.”
School officials declined to comment during the agenda’s scheduled time for public addresses and questions during the board meeting on Tuesday, May 19. The Cortez Journal inquired about the status of the 6.65 acre-site valued at $154,280.
“This is citizens address-the-board time,” said Re-1 Superintendent Alex Carter. “This isn’t question time.”
Reminded that the district’s agenda included a notation allowing the public to pose questions to the board, no school leader responded.
Revenues totaling $275,000 from the sale of the building are currently included on the Re-1 district’s proposed 2015-16 budget, which was unveiled at Tuesday’s meeting.
Upon a recommendation from Carter, the Journal followed up via email on Wednesday with multiple questions related to the Calkins Building sale. Specifically, the Journal asked Carter to explain why developers would drag their feet for months after telling school officials in December that it was paramount for the deal to be approved as soon as possible.
“We are fully prepared to move forward,” principal developer Brian Burton told the board on Dec. 9, 2014.
“I know it’s difficult to make these types of decisions – there’s a lot of emotion involved, there’s still a few unknowns – but at the same time, it’s very important for us to move forward very quickly,” he continued. “We have time hurdles.”
The Journal also asked Carter if he would confirm or deny rumors that the sale has been delayed due to a property description error contained in the initial contract. The Journal also requested copies of all contracts.
As of press deadlines on Thursday, Carter has not responded to the Journal’s queries.
Telephone and email messages sent to Burton were unanswered.
Developers previously indicated that they would seek to have the Calkins Building placed on the National Register of Historic Places, a six-month process that could cost up to $40,000. To date, final-use plans are not available.
When the sale was announced in January, Re-1 board members agreed that the district didn’t have the funding to renovate the structure for future use, and selling the property would be advantageous.
“We’re checking off a high liability,” Carter told board members on Jan. 27.
Swedish immigrant Peter Baxstrom constructed the Calkins Building in 1909. Named in honor of Dr. Royal W. Calkins, a local physician, the building served as the Cortez schoolhouse until 1947. Junior-high students attended the school through the middle 1960s.
The building underwent some renovation about a decade ago with hopes to remodel the structure for administrative purposes, but the project was shelved in 2008 because of a lack of funding. It’s been estimated that complete renovation efforts could cost as much as $5 million.