South St. Louis County News

St. Louis Call Newspapers

South St. Louis County News

St. Louis Call Newspapers

South St. Louis County News

St. Louis Call Newspapers

Plans may move forward for Lindbergh warehouse

Leasing site for warehouse not an option, Lanane says

An administrative recommendation to proceed with plans for the possible construction of a central warehouse was scheduled to be considered earlier this week by the Lindbergh Board of Education.

The Board of Education was scheduled to meet Tuesday night — after the Call went to press. During a special meeting Saturday morning, board members and administrators discussed the construction of a central warehouse that could cost roughly $2.5 million. No formal action was taken during the nearly 4.5-hour meeting, which included a roughly one-hour closed session to discuss real estate.

During the open session, board members indicated by consensus that they concurred with the administration’s recommendation to proceed with planning for the development of a central warehouse at a site to be determined later.

Near the end of the meeting, Superintendent Jim Sandfort said, “… What we will do is we will put this on next Tuesday night’s agenda for authorization to proceed …”

District officials have been discussing the possibility of constructing a central warehouse for some time, most recently at the July 17 Board of Education meeting.

At that time, Executive Director of Planning and Development Karl Guyer said that despite an exhaustive search for a location within the district, the only possible sites for a central warehouse were on the Lindbergh High School campus.

One potential site would be on the former Winheim property the district purchased that is immediately adjacent to the Administration Building on the west side of the campus. The second possible site is on the Gym 3 parking lot on the east side of the campus.

On Saturday morning, more specific plans for the Gym 3 parking lot site were presented by Guyer, and board members discussed funding the project from existing revenues.

At one point, Chief Financial Officer Pat Lanane said, “I think the point with this whole discussion is we have two possible sites on the high school campus. The third option is still out there. We haven’t given up on that. There’s been a few properties that have now come open that may be a possibility off the high school campus. It’s really the concept itself in terms of the board-available resources: Is this something to now make that next step? Either come back to you with a recommendation for some other site that would be an instant warehouse — I mean it would have some advantages that you wouldn’t be waiting to construct anything or settle on one of these two and come back …”

Board Secretary Vic Lenz asked if the district would purchase a site for the warehouse if it was not constructed on the high school campus.

“I certainly don’t see paying yearly,” he said.

Lanane replied, “Oh no — no. The lease thing to me is not an economic option to even bring before you. I looked at that and it was — I mean over about a 10- or 11-year period you could actually pay for the building.”

Lenz said, “Exactly.”

Lanane said, “It just made very little sense to me to even recommend that.”

Lenz said, “Well, I find it difficult to look at these things without knowing the numbers on the other piece, though, if we’re looking at possibly going off. I mean how can we realistically look at what do we want to do here unless we know what’s the cost on the other?”

Sandfort later clarified, “… What the in-tent is or what the hope is this morning is to get a sense of the board that for X amount of dollars we can get a warehouse somewhere either on campus or off campus. That’s a threshold amount and what we have been wrestling with with the board and talking about back and forth is where’s the best location? Is it off campus? On campus? If it’s on campus, is it here or is it here? We’ve looked at all the other campuses. We know that for this amount of money, we can do something that is in — it’s a high-priority need to get done.

“The configuration of that, we’d still have a lot of discussion back and forth with the board … We just need a sense of the board — do it — and then let us wrestle with all the details of it in terms of going out and checking out property. But we’ve been spending a lot of time continuing to massage this idea of a warehouse and we’re looking for a sense of the board: ‘Yes, we’ve talked about it long enough. Move forward.’ And then we will bring back the plans.”

Board Treasurer Katie Wesselschmidt said, “And I totally agree with that, but I think I agree with Vic, too, saying I don’t just have a real good handle about how much — I mean you say $2.5 mil(lion) in here, but what do you base that on? I mean there are still so many different ways to do this.”

Sandfort said, “… We’re basing it on what we can do with a known piece of property that we currently own …

“At the outside limit, we can put together a warehouse that will serve the needs of the district. Anything we do anyplace else in any other configuration will only be less than that,” he said.

Board member Janine Fabick said, “… I guess I’m a little confused then. If you’re asking us should we move forward with the warehouse project, but you’re showing us these configurations, is that, in effect, giving you authorization to look at everything and then make a decision that you may still go forward at this location in these configurations?”

Lanane replied, “Well, you’d be asked to make that decision. What we’d do, we would come back and say: We have looked at everything. Here’s our recommendation, but here are options B and C if you don’t like our recommendation. That’s what we would try to provide for you. And there is also the possibility that there won’t be a B and a C. We may get enough into this over the next few months where we’d say: You know what? We just didn’t — there’s nothing out there that will really work for us.

“The only properties are too far away, they’re not central — whatever — and so there is no C option. And after we work a little more on these, it may end up there’s really only an A or a B or only an A. We haven’t quite got that far yet and that’s what we’re really asking: Do you want us to get that far because it will be quite a bit of additional work to do that now. That’s one of the things,” he continued. “We’re also saying in this is we have come this far and we’re kind of comfortable with what we’re presenting because some of this work was done by an outside architect.

“We’ve spent a little bit of money to look at our site. Do you want us to spend any more and devote our time to this as opposed to giving it to something else? That’s really — it’s a time and money decision.”

After additional discussion, board members indicated by consensus they wished to proceed with planning for the project.

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