Friday, May 6, 2016

In a sweetheart deal, Metro Plans Sale of Ben West Library to TEA Union.

Plans involve adaptive reuse of the building, preserving its architecture and original educational purposes and a sweetheart deal that subsidizes the purchase by teachers union.

 Metro Press Release, 5/5/2016, NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Metro officials are nearing completion of

a sale of the Ben West Library to the Tennessee Education Association (TEA), which will allow for the renovation of the facility in a way that preserves the history and architecture of the building and allows for public use.

“When I found out that TEA, which represents so many of our great public school teachers, was interested in purchasing the property, I was excited about the opportunity,” said Mayor Megan Barry. “This is a win for historic preservation advocates, public school advocates, and the city of Nashville as a whole.”

In the proposal submitted to Metro, TEA plans for the first floor of the building to function as a large auditorium, meeting, and display space for use by students, teachers, and others involved in education. TEA will preserve the second floor theater for similar educational purposes. As part of the deal, TEA will make the Ben West Library Building’s proposed conference and event space available to Metro Schools 50 days each year for meetings and events, plus 12 days extended to Metro.

“We are excited to have a collaborative partnership with Mayor Barry and Metro Nashville to ensure that the Ben West building is preserved in a way that will serve as an important resource for teachers and public schools across Tennessee,” said Jim Wrye, government relations manager with the Tennessee Education Association.

“Once renovations of the building are complete, we will be able to move our annual TEA convention from Franklin to Nashville, which is great for our members and will be an economic boost for the city.”

Terms of the sale of the Ben West Library include: $2 million to the McLanahan heirs in order to satisfy terms of the deed restrictions on the original property. $2 million to Metro Nashville, $750,000 of which will be paid at closing, with $125,000 per year for 10 years. Estimated $8,500,000 in renovations by TEA to create a “state of the art” facility for use by Metro Schools, teachers, educators and Metro. Total preservation of the historic building, with no modifications to height or fa├žade. A total investment of TEA in the amount of $12,500,000. Purchase of the Ben West Library will coincide with the successful closing of the sale of the existing TEA facility at 801 2nd Ave North.

My comment:  This is a sweetheart deal and the teachers union is not a good sweetheart.  We should not be so closely aligned to a union which stands in the way of educational reform. Why did this property not have to go to auction or be sold through a listing? Is $4 million really fair market value?
Also, allowing TEA to pay what it owes to Metro, $2 million, over 10 years, means that Metro is basically acting as a lender on this deal (subsidy). At 4% interest, the current value of $4 million spread over 10 years is $4.86 million. I hope this deal gets close scrutiny from the Metro Council. I don't know if we are selling the property for less than what it is worth or not, but we must be or part of the deal would not include allowing Metro Schools use of the building.

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