The Denton school district has agreed to sell to the city a vacant building it owns downtown, abandoning its year-old plans for 401 N. Elm St.
The deal is expected to be finalized on the city’s side Tuesday. Council members have discussed the deal behind closed doors for several weeks.
Superintendent Jamie Wilson said district trustees agreed to sell the property for what the district had invested so far — that is, the purchase price plus renovations made so far, about $4.5 million.
The district bought the building in April 2018 with plans to renovate it for the district’s data center and for adult education programs. The building dates from the 1970s when it was a Kroger grocery store. Most recently, it housed Daybreak Venture, a home health and hospice care group.
Wilson said that after crews gutted the building and abated the asbestos, it became clear that the district had better, more cost-effective options with its existing facilities.
“It was going to be very expensive to move our data center,” Wilson said.
The district expects to free up workable space at Denton High School and Calhoun Middle School — where it also has the data fiber needed — when the new Denton High School opens, he said.
In considering the deal, district officials knew the city needed space too, Wilson said.
The city’s Development Services departments moved into leased office space and out of City Hall West in 2016 so that the historic building could be renovated.
Those renovation discussions remain ongoing.
Currently, the city is leasing two other buildings downtown for Development Services. The agreement began in 2016 with $400,000 annual base rent and expires in a few years.
The move likely means another shift in available public parking downtown in a year or two. Currently, a large lot in the 200 block of Mulberry Street is available on nights and weekends, after Development Services employees head home for the day. The building at 401 N. Elm St. sits on a 2.7-acre parcel, previously paved for grocery parking.
City spokesman Ryan Adams confirmed the city plans to move Development Services into the building once renovations are complete. He estimated it would be at least nine months or more after the city takes possession of the building for renovations to be complete.