Trustees vote to proceed with negotiation to purchase apartments

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Fort Scott Community College officials are negotiating the purchase of two different properties as part of a package that would address a need for student housing.

During a special meeting Friday afternoon at the college, the board spent about 40 minutes in executive session to discuss the possibility of acquisition of real property. The session included trustees, FSCC Athletic Director Tom Havron, Dean of Finance and Operations Julie Eichenberger, and Zack Reynolds, the college’s attorney.

When the board returned to open session, trustees approved a motion to move forward with purchase of the Garrison Quarters Apartments at 1731 S. Horton St. There was no public comment or discussion following the vote, officials said.

FSCC President Alysia Johnston said Tuesday college officials are still negotiating contract terms for the purchase of the apartment complex and the Red Ram motel property at 701 N. National Ave.

During their April meeting, trustees unanimously approved moving forward with the purchase of the Red Ram, and a separate motion authorizing the issuance of certificates of participation estimated to be $900,000.

“They voted (Friday) to purchase Garrison with the financing,” Johnston said. “We’re in the process of trying to purchase them. There is no contract on the Red Ram. We’re talking with the owners of the Garrison. We have not purchased them yet. The board approved the option to at least try and purchase them.”

The Garrison apartments contain 10 two-bedroom units that would house a total of 36 students. Officials have said the purchase price for the complex would be about $500,000 to $600,000. The hotel contains 21 rooms and sits on about five acres of land.

Johnston said the purchase price for either property has not yet been determined.

“We haven’t determined that,” she said. “It’s not going to be more than the $500,000 (for the Garrison.) We’re still negotiating through our attorney, Zack Reynolds.”

Johnston also said college officials are currently “not looking at any other properties” for the student housing project, “but we have the option to do so.”

“The only two we’re looking at are the Red Ram and the Garrison apartments,” she said.

Although there is no timeline set, Johnston said the hope is to finalize the purchases soon so renovations can begin and properties are ready for the fall semester at the college.

“We want to get the Red Ram done soon but it depends on the other parties,” she said. “It would have to be done fairly quickly or just wait. We have to move forward for the tenants and our timeline making sure we’re ready to go for next school year. We have to consider tenants’ leases and making sure the property is ready.”

College officials have been researching possible ways to address student housing and increase revenue and enrollment without raising taxes.

Since March, the board has been discussing the purchase and renovation of the motel property and have considered two apartment complexes, the Garrison apartments and the Sycamore Grove Apartments at 401 W. 10th St.

In March, the board originally discussed acquiring the motel and the Sycamore Grove Apartments and then looked at the Garrison Quarters Apartments as another option that is closer to the college’s campus than Sycamore Grove. The Garrison apartments are within walking distance from campus and would need minimal renovation, officials said.

Johnston has said college officials heard a variety of concerns from the community on Sycamore Grove, such as proximity to the college campus and the nearby Winfield Scott School, as well as “taking it (apartment building) off the tax rolls.” She also said the number of beds is “more manageable.”

Officials have said the cost for the Sycamore Grove apartments would be about $1 million.

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