The former Millikin School may soon have a new tenant.
Howard Thompson, economic development director for Cleveland Heights, said the city is trying to lure a company here from out of the state, but he could not provide specifics.
“We’ve been approached by someone from outside the state about utilizing the facility,” Thompson said. “There’s a great deal of jobs involved with it.”
A handful of people spoke at the Cleveland Heights –University Heights City School District meeting Tuesday night and said some neighbors want the facility, which closed in 2006 due to low enrollment, used for educational purposes. They heard rumors that a call center was moving in, which prompted them to attend the meeting.
They’d like to see the K-12 private Orthodox Jewish school Mosdos Ohr Hatorah, which has sent offers to buy the property, move into 1700 Crest Road.
“If you have an anchor site and a high-performing school such as Mosdos Ohr Hatorah, that will continue to build the community, and you’ll see more people like my husband and myself moving in for these educational opportunities, continuing to be property tax paying members of the community,” said Cleveland Heights resident Jessica Cohen.
Others added that the school would serve as a community center for the neighborhood.
Mosdos Ohr Hatorah offered to pay the district $550,000 for the building, said Superintendent Douglas Heuer in a press release.
“… we remain firmly committed to ensuring this community receives fair value for its investment. There is simply no reason for the district to sell this property at an unfairly low price,” Heuer said.
The board put the property up for sale in 2006 and received four offers, he said. The highest was $500,000, and in 2005, the site was appraised at $2.4 million.
In addition, the board made formal requests for proposals in 2009 and 2011, but no one sent an offer, Heuer said.
"Recently, the board has once again engaged in a conversation about leasing the property, not selling it. Given the current real estate market, the board is concerned that a sale at this time would not provide for sufficient return in value for taxpayers," Heuer said.
The district has spent about $30,000 to maintain the building, said Steve Shergalis, director of business services for the district. He said it is in “good condition.”
Cleveland Heights City Councilman Jason Stein called the building an “eyesore” and said the district should consider taking the offer from Mosdos Ohr Hatorah.
“It’s been five years. We’ve been waiting on a decision on a property that, quite honestly, is an eyesore,” Stein said. “On a regular basis, windows are being broken. There’s graffiti there. It’s hurting the residents.”
Since 2008, the has received more than 50 calls and complaints about the site, according to call logs. About a dozen reports indicated people broke windows and put graffiti on the walls, and three were breaking and entering incidents. Most of the calls came in when something triggered the alarm.
Stein said he’s happy with how the district and city have , which closed in 2007. , , , the and soon occupy the space.
Those organizations and companies mesh well with the Coventry business district, but on the residential Crest Road, an educational institution would make the most sense, Stein said.
“They have an offer on the table that makes everybody happy. The residents win, the neighborhood and the schools win, so what are we waiting for?”
Thompson said he’s been “actively working with Mosdos on their space and facility needs.”
“We’re very proactive to try to find people the right space for the needs that they have,” he said. “If it did work out (with the out-of-state company) … we would do something similar to what we did at Coventry.”
Cleveland Heights City Council that allows more types of industries to use vacant buildings such as schools, churches and libraries in the city.
But those interested in those buildings must receive a conditional use permit.
The Planning Commission decides if businesses and organizations should receive the permits, and they must follow specific guidelines to be able to use the space. For example, new tenants must make sure that their business does not disrupt neighbors, so hours, traffic (from both pedestrians and cars) and other possible disturbances must be considered.
Thompson said he may have more information in a few weeks. Cleveland Heights Patch will continue to update this story.