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59 George Washington Carver Elementary

The abandoned George Washington Carver Elementary School is one of six properties Gary Community School Corp. received a bid for. 

Gary Community School Corp. School attorney Tracy Coleman said the district’s emergency manager is reviewing six bids made on six properties in a sale that ended Aug. 24.

The six bids total $555,000. The city of Gary made a $100,000 bid during a previous round of bidding on Franklin Elementary School, where the city plans to build affordable housing and mixed commercial properties.

As part of the review process, district emergency manager Peggy Hinckley must give the city’s mayor, Karen Freeman-Wilson, 30-day notice, prior to accepting bids, per the state school takeover law, Coleman said.

The financially troubled Gary school district last year was put under the control of state-appointed emergency manager Hinckley after trustees repeatedly failed to match the district's spending to its declining revenue and racked up more than $100 million in debt.

George Carver Elementary, 2535 Virginia St., received a $35,000 bid from Henry Leong, managing member of Little Calumet Greenspace, LLC. The proposal calls for the school to be environmentally remediated, razed and the footprint developed into a logistics complex.

George Carver was listed at $1,148,600.

“LCG has been acquiring all the vacant lots and homes to the east of the school and seeks to collaborate with the city of Gary,” in the development of the 1.2 million square foot logistics warehouse hub, according to documents.

Jefferson Elementary, at 601 Jackson St., received a $150,000 bid from Indiana American Water Co., which plans to use the property for future expansion to the existing Borman Park Water Treatment facility at 650 Madison St., documents show. The cost for demolition is estimated between $750,000 and $1 million, the water company’s proposal states.

Jefferson Elementary was listed at $5,056,000.

Patheon Corp. put in a $100,000 bid for the Duncan Elementary property on 21st Avenue for mixed use development. The proposal calls for six townhomes, office space and a warehouse for supplying appliances and cabinets for other developments, documents state.

Duncan Elementary was listed at $1,644,550.

The Gary Community School Corp. administration office, 620 E. 10th Place, received a $35,000 bid from Richardson Disposal, a company that operates the city’s citizens’ drop-off program. The plan is to demolish the building and for Richardson Disposal to expand operations there.

The administration office was listed at $2,007,500.

Nobel Elementary, 601 Potawatomi Trail, received a $75,000 bid from First Metro Development.

Nobel Elementary was listed at $1,210,300. 

“It is our intent to create a planned unit development consisting of affordable housing complexes and comparable commercial retail development, with the goal of keeping Gary citizens in Gary, and attracting new people to Gary,” First Metro Development’s proposal states.

The Gary Housing Authority bid $160,000 on Ernie Pyle Elementary, 2521-89 W. 19th Ave., to develop market rate, senior, and single-family housing.

Ernie Pyle Elementary was listed at $1,933,100. 

Vandalism has plagued abandoned Gary public school buildings for years amid dwindling enrollment, towering debt and tax liens on properties that long-tied the hands of district officials. Over the years, many of the schools have been hit by arson, or accessed by squatters and gangs, tagged with graffiti and looted for left-behind school equipment and other valuables.

Under the state law, Hinckley can also choose to auction off the properties, but she has described that option as a last resort.

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Northlake County Reporter

Lauren covers North Lake County government, breaking news, crime and environmental issues for The Times. She previously worked at The Herald-News in Joliet. She holds a master’s degree in Public Affairs Reporting.