CH-UH Board To Consider Millikin Lease Proposal
The proposal outlines some details of a possible lease agreement before the final document is drafted.
The Cleveland Heights-University Heights School Board will consider a lease proposal for the former Millikin School at its regular meeting tonight, Aug. 7, at the Board of Education building.
The non-binding agreement is meant to spell out some of the details of a possible lease before an actual lease is drafted to make sure all interested parties are on the same page.
The proposal suggests that the district lease the school property to the City of Cleveland Heights and sublease it to Mosdos Ohr Hatorah, the Orthodox Jewish School that has shown interest in the building at 1700 Crest Road.
The proposal also indicates that Mosdos would need to make $1.5 million in permanent improvements to the building within the first 18 months of the lease, said Steve Shergalis, director of business services for CH-UH. This is why the city would need to be involved.
According to the district, CH-UH is required to include a “right of termination” clause in leases to be in accordance with Ohio case law, which gives CH-UH the power to end the lease at any time. The city does not have to include that clause.
This clause was unacceptable to Mosdos because of the substantial investment they would be asked to put into the building.
The terms would be for 30 years at $1 per year, Shergalis said. There would be two consecutive options to renew for an additional 10 years at market value, and Mosdos would be responsible for all taxes, maintenance, insurance and utilities.
The lease proposal includes the school property, a 46,555 square-foot building, but not use of the 6,500 square-foot barn, said Alan Rapoport, an attorney representing Mosdos and former Cleveland Heights mayor. That would still be used by the school district for storage.
School Board President Karen Jones had announced in May that the district would discuss a long-term lease with Mosdos.
The Mosdos Ohr Hatorah community had attended CH-UH School Board and Cleveland Heights City Council meetings off and on since February, urging the CH-UH School Board to reconsider its offers to purchase the approximately 11-acre property for $550,000, and to make sure a call center didn’t move in.
That sparked a debate over the current value of the building, and both parties conducted appraisals.
In addition, Cleveland Heights Mayor Ed Kelley confirmed the call center initially interested in the Millikin had a purchase agreement for the former Medusa Portland Cement headquarters, 3008 Monticello Blvd., at a public meeting in May.
Rapoport said in May that though Mosdos would have preferred to buy Millikin, they were open to hearing other options.
"From Mosdos' point of view, the bottom line is that they'd like to educate their children in that building. And the different ways of achieving that objective, all of those could be considered," he said.
The private Orthodox Jewish School would like to move its K-8 boys school and boys and girls preschools into Millikin, and sell its boys school on Warrensville Center Road, said Rabbi Baruch Chaim Manies, executive director, in May. The K-12 girls division would remain at its school on South Taylor Road.
Mosdos has already signed the lease proposal document, said Rapoport. Once the school board signs, the next step is to take it to the City of Cleveland Heights.
Mayor Ed Kelley said Law Director John Gibbon is reviewing the materials now.
Rapoport said that this agreement could be mutually beneficial — the district would no longer need to pay for upkeep of the building but still own the property, and Mosdos could use the half million they were planning to purchase the building with on improvements.
But there are still many details to be hammered out, he said. And even if everyone agrees to a lease proposal, it does not guarantee that everyone will agree to the final terms of the lease.
“What I’m hoping for, at the end of the day, is that there will be a partnership developed out of this between the school district and the Orthodox community, both who have an interest in educating children,” Rapoport said.