TUSD sells closed school site, Wrightstown Elementary, to developer

2013-12-12T00:00:00Z 2014-07-17T14:27:32Z TUSD sells closed school site, Wrightstown Elementary, to developerBy Alexis Huicochea Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star

The TUSD Governing Board has approved a $1.6 million deal for a residential development on the site of the now-closed Wrightstown Elementary School — marking the first time the district has transferred ownership of one of its closed schools.

The vote was unanimous Tuesday night, and there was virtually no comment by the board.

Mahalo Development LLC plans to build up to 80 single-family homes on the 9.2-acre property, 8950 E. Wrightstown Road.

The $1.6 million sale is the biggest deal the Tucson Unified School District has struck on any of its closed campuses, some of which still remain vacant. It is also the first sale — other sites have been leased.

The sale has the potential to reduce annual expenditures for utilities, security and grounds maintenance by $20,000 to $25,000, which may be used for programs that improve achievement. It also will provide about $1.6 million for capital improvements or to reduce bond indebtedness.

This is not the first time, however, that the Governing Board has approved selling Wrightstown. In May 2012, the property was to have been sold for $1.59 million to a developer who planned to build luxury rental homes but stopped the project, citing concerns by neighbors over traffic issues and home values.

This time, Mahalo Development has met with neighbors and the neighborhood association president, who endorsed the project, said Bryant Nodine, TUSD’s Planning Services Program Manager.

While the TUSD board gave the project the green light, the action is conditional on the approval of the federal court that is overseeing the district’s desegregation efforts and the successful rezoning of the property.

“This seems to be a good fit for our neighborhood,” said Thom Daly, Desert Palms Park Neighborhood Association president. “We’d like the new neighborhood to mirror our neighborhood, and we think the single-family homes will do that.”

More importantly, Daly is looking forward to the property being developed after sitting vacant for nearly four years.

“When TUSD closed the school, it had no plans for it, so it has sat in decay,” Daly said. “The school has been totally vandalized; anything of any value has been stolen; windows have been broken. Eventually, they came and boarded the windows up, but by then the damage was done.

“We’re looking forward to the developer improving the property and the neighborhood overall. It’s an excellent location.”

In other business, the TUSD Governing Board approved the appointments of a new chief financial officer and chief human resources officer.

Anna Maiden, assistant superintendent in charge of human resources in the Sunnyside School District, will make the move to TUSD.

TUSD’s new CFO is Karla Soto, currently the finance director in the Nogales Unified School District.

Contact reporter Alexis Huicochea at ahuicochea@azstarnet.com or 573-4175. On Twitter @AlexisHuicochea

Copyright 2014 Arizona Daily Star. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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