Plain Dealer Editorial Board: CH-UH Should Sell Millikin. Do You Agree?

"Why the district would want to hold on to the sprawling brick building, tucked into a neighborhood of single-family homes in Cleveland Heights, is a mystery," the Plain Dealer Editorial Board wrote

The Plain Dealer published an editorial Sunday that urges the Cleveland Heights-University Heights School Board to "seriously consider" selling the former Millikin School.

The CH-UH school building that once housed a elementary and preschool closed in 2006 due to low enrollment and has been vacant since.

Mosdos Ohr Hatorah sent proposals to buy the building a few times, and most recently offered the district $550,000.

District officials contend that the building was appraised at $2.4 million in 2005, and Mosdos' price is not fair. They'd rather lease the building until the market stabilizes to ensure that the district and taxpayers get the best value, and said they offered that option to Mosdos.

“… we remain firmly committed to ensuring this community receives fair value for its investment. There is simply no reason for the district to sell this property at an unfairly low price,” said Superintendent Douglas Heuer.

The board put the property up for sale in 2006 and received four offers, Heuer said. At that time, the highest was $500,000. In addition, the board made formal requests for proposals in 2009 and 2011, but no one sent an offer, Heuer said.

Neighbors of the Millikin property and parents whose children attend Mosdos Ohr Hatorah heard that the board was to a call center, which is what prompted them to speak at a meeting February. Since then, hundreds of people have crowded and , urging the district to again put the property up for sale and allow Mosdos to negotiate.

Mosdos officials and supporters said the K-12 private Orthodox Jewish school would put in $1 million to $2 million in renovations, and an operating school in the neighborhood would help increase property values.

“It’s been five years. We’ve been waiting on a decision on a property that, quite honestly, is an eyesore,” said Councilman Jason Stein, whose children attend Mosdos. “On a regular basis, windows are being broken. There’s graffiti there. It’s hurting the residents.”

Since 2008, the has received more than 50 calls and complaints about the site, according to call logs. About a dozen reports indicated people broke windows and put graffiti on the walls, and three were breaking and entering incidents. Most of the calls came in when something triggered the alarm.

City Council members showed their support for the residents, and asked that the board (in addition to regular meetings) to discuss Millikin with residents and council.

The Plain Dealer suggests the district to find out the current, accurate value of the building, then start the process of selling it.

"It looks awful. Its 11-acre site is pocked with broken asphalt, dotted with peeling paint and haunted by the ghost of an uprooted playground. Its neighbors deserve better," the editorial board wrote. "The mystery of the board's reluctance to part with the property deepens when one considers that the district is studying the possible closure of ."

We've ran several articles and letters to the editor about the controversy as well. See our coverage below, read the Plain Dealer editorial, and then tell us, what do you think the CH-UH School Board should do? Take our poll below and share your thoughts in the comments.

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Eric Silverman March 16, 2012 at 07:22 PM
I am not sure of the relevancy of the Oakwood rezoning other than the squandering of a once in a century opportunity by the City of South Euclid for a new location for a purveyor of low-cost imported consumer items. The 2005 appraisal is correct in the value of the site by looking at multiple ways to use the property, not merely one. As the market for closed schools is finite and limited, the cost to build a new school less the cost to renovate it is a better way to determine a value of the school. The value of a commodity is based on its scarcity, location and use to someone else, not wishful thinking. There is no reason not to wait until the Facilities Plan is complete and approved to determine any role for Severance-Millikin by the District. If none, then entertain options for the building, and just the building. This rush for a decision is unneeded, unwarranted and leads to this acrimonious dialogue which is of benefit to no one.
Fran Mentch March 16, 2012 at 07:50 PM
Thank you!
Akiva Feinstein March 16, 2012 at 10:23 PM
Indeed time does solve things. However no one knows how long the Master Facilities Plan will take- legal and financial obstacles abound. Further Millikin is not even officially being considered in the plan. Did you see its name in any official statements or discussed much at the community meetings? Meanwhile our community sits with an empty school and frequent police incidents.
Eric Silverman March 16, 2012 at 10:49 PM
There is little mention of Severance-Millikin, the same way there is little discussion of Taylor, Coventry or the Board of Education Building, although all are structures future will be determined by this Facilities Plan. In the next few months the plan should be complete, vetted by the public and then have the Board act on it. By Labor Day, if not sooner, we should have a course of action with the only variable being the funding mechanism, which may be resolved by the end of 2012 as well. As I have stated previously, I agree with concerns over how the District has maintained the site since ceasing full-time utilization. I also support improving security to the site. School buildings are often a draw for youth looking for somewhere to hang out away from scrutiny and their large sites abutting back yards provide this. I know firsthand there are spots at Oxford or Monticello that only the most astute observer would know someone was at. I have nothing but intense anger, contempt and disgust for vandals. With that said, the District has erred in not developing a better way to discourage this behavior and I agree with those who seek to diminish this activity. A tenant in Severance-Millikin may reduce inappropriate behavior, but an occupied building is no guarantee of a cessation of activity like this. In the interim and moving forward we need the City and the Schools to work on a solution that will continue to be implemented into the future and not fade away.
Garry Kanter March 17, 2012 at 12:09 AM
Actually, Ms. Jones, I fought. The citizens of the East Side are the losers due to the SE city council's 7 - 0 vote to rezone Oakwood into a Walmart.


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