Placing a price tag on history and memories
Cheney School District’s Fisher Building receives appraisal of just over $1 million
The Cheney School District now has an idea of a bottom line asking price should it decided to sell its 84-year-old administration and services building and former high school.
At a workshop as part of its regular meeting last Wednesday, the school board received an appraisal from the firm of Auble, Jolicoeur & Gentry placing an estimated value of $1,000,055 on the 57,128 square foot Fisher Building. The Fisher building sits on 1.22 acres of land between Fourth and Fifth streets, College Avenue in D Street, and originally entered public service in 1930 as the district’s high school named after a long-time Cheney educator George Fisher.
School board members acknowledged the history behind the building, noting several groups have expressed concerns about having it sold and what would happen to some of the artifacts and other historical items. Board chair Suzanne Dolle said those concerns would be taken care of.
“We would take the time to get those properly stored if we decided to go ahead with the sale,” she added.
Several citizens addressed the board during the workshop about Fisher. One woman who didn’t wish to be identified said there were many unique facets about Fisher that should be considered before putting it up for sale, noting the auditorium was “beautiful” and contending the building could still be used for the district’s educational purposes.
“Why don’t we work with the building we have,” she said, noting the district is also working on an estimated $80 million renovation to the high school that would add a 700-seat performing arts center.
“My point is I certainly don’t want to see it sold to someone who will tear it down,” she added.
Brian Aiken, the district’s executive director of finance and operations, said the building has seen several renovations and expansions over its history. However, he said a 2004 appraisal also performed by Auble, Jolicoeur & Gentry noted the building was 40 years past its useful life expectancy, and that other issues, such as insufficient parking to accommodate performances in the auditorium and upgrades including those to make it compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act, were monetarily prohibitive.
The district estimates it would cost $13 million to upgrade Fisher, and has been in the process of moving its services and operations out of the building to its new facility on Needham Hill southeast of Four Lakes.
“The realities are the systems in that building need to be completely replaced,” Aiken said. “It’s given this community 84 years of good service.”
In response to a statement that renovating Fisher would cost a lot less than expanding the high school, board member Rick Mount said Fisher had been used for administrative purposes during his entire service on the board, 15 years. Mount said the board has always sought to be fiscally responsible with the public’s money, including building new schools that are functional and useful in educational purposes rather than as “monuments” to architects.
“We do take it seriously,” Mount said. “We understand George Fisher was a great educator in this district and it bears his name.”
The current appraisal provided several possible uses for Fisher from examples around the state, including high-density housing and as a private school. School board member Marcie Estrellado expressed appreciation for the efforts on Fisher, including citizen’s concerns, but felt the district has established forward progress with construction of its two new middle schools and an elementary school, and should keep its eye on that future.
“Fisher doesn’t fit the purpose,” she said. “So, I’m all about repurposing it.”
John McCallum can be reached at email@example.com.