2 Emerson School for Visual and Performing Arts

Gang graffiti marks the blackboards of a classroom in the former Emerson School for Visual and Performing Arts in Gary in 2015. Tattered remnants of paper, school books, furniture and other supplies were strewn about the floor of the abandoned building, which was completely open and freely accessible via damaged windows.

We hope it's a sign they're coming to their senses on the pricing of 33 abandoned, dilapidated school buildings, transformed into liabilities by blight and neglect.

It seems the state-appointed administrators of the beleaguered Gary public school system are beginning to listen to overtures that they had priced the buildings out of the market.

Gary Emergency Manager Peggy Hinckley told Times reporter Lauren Cross this week that after a previous Times editorial called out the school district for inflated prices on the properties, she received lowered reassessments on about eight of the properties from the Calumet Townships assessor's office.

That's a start.

Another clear indication of the high prices came when the school district received just one bid after posting the properties for sale.

That bid came from Gary city government, which offered $100,000 for an elementary school that the school district had listed at the exorbitant price of $1.3 million.

We weren't the only ones gasping over such prices for abandoned, moldering buildings that have become magnets for crime, including gang graffiti and homicides.

"Even if there was a buyer not bright enough to realize what they were purchasing, there isn't an appraiser in the United States that would be able to find comparable sales to justify the price," Region Realtor Aaron McDermott recently told Times business reporter Joseph Pete of the Gary schools’ asking prices.

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"Therefore, there isn't a lender that would loan any money on a project like this."

McDermott estimated that the school city should be attempting to unload the blighted school properties for $1 per square foot or less.

The school district's administrators would be wise to listen to such professional advice.

Hinckley also told The Times this week that the school district is "not on an emergency timeline" to get the abandoned school properties off the books.

It's true many have been festering for years, but each day that passes, the liability grows.

These buildings pose a proven emergency within the city. Each day these abandoned structures are allowed to stand as a vortex for gang graffiti and some of the worst types of crimes, actual lives are put at risk.

Price these buildings to sell, and eliminate the threat.



Members of The Times Editorial Board are Publisher Christopher T. White, Editor Marc Chase, Deputy Editor Kerry Erickson, Regional News Editor Sharon Ross, Assistant Deputy Editor Andrew Steele.