Plan for FD middle schools discussed

Fair Oaks and Phillips middle schools have potential buyers.

Foutch Brothers LLC, of Kansas City, Mo., has proposed an option of $1 to get both middle school buildings, but not the Phillips gymnasium and adjacent track. The option expires Dec. 17, though this language has not been finalized.

If Foutch does option the buildings, Holy Trinity Parish has proposed to acquire the Phillips gym and track for $362,500.

However, if Foutch does not take the option, Holy Trinity has proposed to pay $75,000 for the gym and track and escrow $650,000 to demolish Phillips.

The Fort Dodge Community School District has intended to see both buildings put to use, though with either contingency the district is relieved of having to maintain the facilities – which will be emptied this summer in the transition to the new middle school – as well as the $1.2 million liability for their demolition.

According to Brandon Hansel, FDCSD director of financial services, Foutch intends to turn both schools into apartment buildings.

“It’s my understanding they want to turn Phillips into 50 residential apartments, market-rate, and Fair Oaks into 50 apartment units, as well,” he said. “There’s a potential for 100 apartment units here in town, which, to my understanding, is needed.”

Hansel said part of the design presented by Foutch is to exploit historical tax credits, which would preserve the architectural characteristics of the building.

“From the exterior, the buildings wouldn’t look any different than they do today,” he said. “They would be refurbished, but they would maintain all of their historical architecture.”

The FDCSD board at its regular meeting Monday unanimously approved setting a public hearing for the proposal from Foutch Brothers LLC.

A second resolution for the proposed sale to Holy Trinity, though, passed 5-2, with board members Bill Kent and Deb Peterson voting against.

Kent argued the district should not set a deadline for the option with Foutch, and should hold the buildings and work with the company for as long as is necessary.

“I fully support Foutch to convert Phillips into apartments,” Kent said. “I feel the board needs to works with Foutch even if it takes longer than December 17 to accomplish that goal. I believe it’s in the best interest of the school system to see Phillips building converted into housing for the community. I am worried about the potential of Phillips being demolished.”

Doug Van Zyl, FDCSD superintendent, noted that the school district would retain ownership of the buildings while Foutch holds the option. The deadline could also potentially be extended.

Kent also suggested that organizations within the district could still use the Phillips gymnasium, wrestling room and field.

“I know our long-range plan includes new facilities at the high school, but in my opinion it will be several years before we can complete that,” he said. “I hope members of the community and parents that might agree with this position will come forward and express their opinion to board members.”

Any sale has not been finalized.

Public hearings will be held June 10 at 6 p.m. at the next regular meeting of the board. Immediately after, the board will take action on the proposals.