Gary schools won't get downtown Gary building

2012-11-05T20:33:00Z 2012-11-05T23:28:24Z Gary schools won't get downtown Gary buildingBy Carmen McCollum carmen.mccollum@nwi.com, (219) 662-5337 nwitimes.com

GARY | The deal for the Gary Community School Corp. to acquire the Gary bank building has fallen through.

In late October, EFN Gary Property LLC donated the Gary Bank building, 504 Broadway, to the Gary Community School Corp. The company is owned by Edward Napleton, who also owns the Napleton Automotive Group based in Westmont, Ill. The 10-story building includes a 350-car parking garage.

Officials at the Gary Community School Corp. said they would relocate their administrative offices there, and operate the building as a commercial enterprise. District officials were expected to close on the building Friday, but a news conference announcing the closing and subsequent move-in date was canceled.

Rick Brandstatter, director of real estate operations for the Napleton Group, said Monday the Gary Community School Corp. didn't close Friday and Napleton has identified other parties who may be interested in the donation.

"They had an opportunity," he said. "All of the documents were at the title company. All they had to do was accept the title at closing. The November rent checks were at the title company. The security deposit for the tenants was there. They could have gotten the title to the building and picked up money at the closing at the same time."

Brandstatter said the deal was not "rushed," and they had been talking to Gary school officials since September or October. "We've taken the documents that were at the title company back and we have begun talking to other groups," he said, though he declined to identify them.

Gary Superintendent Cheryl Pruitt had said the bank building needed minimal work and the donor agreed to take care of existing claims. She said a cost analysis would be done to show expenses related to staying at the district's current administrative offices, which has roof and boiler problems, or moving to the Gary bank building.

However, School Board President Darren Washington said accepting the building was contingent on a thorough inspection, which had not been done by Friday's proposed closing. He said school officials were not comfortable closing on the building before having an opportunity to conduct due diligence and determine all the costs associated with the building.

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