City seeks plans for school

Published 11:59 pm Wednesday, January 28, 2009

The city of Andalusia is seeking formal proposals for the development of an arts center in the old Church Street School. Proposals are due by 5 p.m. Wed., Feb. 25.

Last week, the city council authorized Mayor Earl Johnson to begin seeking proposals for the building from groups interested in helping to revitalize the school. He said the city is willing to look at proposals from non-profit groups, civic groups, individuals, foundations and businesses.

This week, the city placed a legal advertisement specifying what should be included in those proposals.

“This is a project that has been talked about for more than five years,” Johnson said. “We’ve had several ad hoc committees to work on it, but we don’t have a definite plan of action. We want serious proposals, from people prepared to move forward in a very timely fashion.”

In its request for proposals, the city asks that the following information be included:

Type of organization and legal classification.

Organization’s background, expertise and accomplishments.

Fund-raising capabilities and future fund-raising plans.

Specific proposal for use of the Church Street School with respect to its use as a cultural arts center, including cost estimates for rehabilitation of the building.

Financial resources dedicated to the proposal.

Plan for management and operation of the facility, including maintenance funding.

Possible role of the city of Andalusia, if any, relative to the project.

While the city is reserving 120 days to review the proposals, Johnson said he hopes the city can make a decision in March.

Johnson said his idea is that the bottom or basement floor of the building would be closed to the public and used for storage only. There is approximately 9,000 square feet on each of the other two floors that could be renovated for use by arts groups.

He said he wants the building’s exterior to remain true to the original design, and foresees an entrance foyer in the rear of the building with an elevator added to meet modern accessibility laws.

Last year, the city received an Alabama Council on the Arts grant that was used for demolition of the interiors.

“We did this when we refurbished the East Three Notch Elementary School for the new city hall,” Johnson said, adding that it’s important to be able to see wiring or structural problems before renovation begins.

The notice appeared in the Wednesday edition of The Star-News, and is available from the city’s Web site. Interested parties also may call 222-3313 to request a copy.