VCSC Wabash Avenue property

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The Vigo County Capital Improvement Board today voted to offer $3 million for the Vigo County School Corp.'s property on Wabash Avenue in Terre Haute that is currently home to the district's central administration offices. The school board still needs to take up the offer. The CIB wants the property for parking related to the downtown convention center project.

Vigo County’s Capital Improvement Board is slated to vote Friday on a proposal to buy the Vigo County School Corp.’s Wabash Avenue property that’s currently home to the school’s administrative headquarters.

The CIB wants the property for parking related to the downtown convention center project.

The 10:30 a.m. meeting will be conducted electronically via Zoom and can be accessed by dialing a conference number. No public testimony or comments will be taken, the board announced in a notice of a special meeting.

Those participating by the Zoom application should use the meeting ID 989 492 4377 and password 4vhdR6. Members of the public may also listen to the meeting by dialing 1-929-205-6099 and entering meeting ID 989 492 4377. The Zoom application can be downloaded for free at https://zoom.us/.

Board President Jon Marvel, contacted Wednesday, said a majority of the school board has agreed to sell its property at the intersection of Seventh Street and Wabash Ave., however, the school board is expected to vote on that decision in an “in-person” meeting once a state stay-at-home order has been lifted.

Marvel said the CIB is slated to vote on purchasing the ground, but will also vote to enter into a lease agreement to allow immediate access for use of the existing parking lot by the Hilton Garden Inn.

The CIB, Marvel said, will discuss and vote on paying for parking in the nearby Skygarden Parking Facility for school administration building officials until the CIB purchases the land from the school corporation.

“We can immediately begin to use that lot for parking for the hotel, which will allow us to begin with the storm water [drain] that has to be put in first,” Marvel said.

That drainage structure is to be constructed at the southeast corner of Seventh and Cherry Streets. That site had been considered for a second parking garage for Hilton Garden Inn, but was removed from the project by the CIB due to high costs.

School district response

The Vigo County School Corporation, since holding community meetings in the fall of 2018, has sought public input on a number of cost-saving items, including the sale of the central administration building.

“Selling the building is a part of our strategic plan that was approved in February, and the school board will take action on the matter once there has been an opportunity for public comment,” Bill Riley, VCSC spokesman, said Wednesday.

Riley said the CIB is to vote on a purchase/lease agreement for the Vigo County School Corporation’s central administrative building.

“This initial agreement will give the Capital Improvement Board access to the Vigo County School Corporation parking lots, and the Capital Improvement Board will pay for Vigo County School Corporation parking spots in the Skygarden parking garage, across Wabash Avenue,” Riley said.

“The purchase agreement must be passed by the Vigo County School Corporation board of trustees, and it is the school board’s intent to do so in a forum that allows public input,” he said.

‘We can’t wait until next year’

Marvel said the convention center project has to move forward.

“We have already sold the bonds for the project. That money is in the bank and can’t be used for any other thing than building a convention center,” Marvel said. “We can’t wait until next year to begin, as we would lose [construction] bids,” he said.

Cost of the convention center, as of November, was more than $34.5 million, up from $32.5 million, which included projected expenses for land.

In March, Steve Witt, executive director of the Terre Haute Redevelopment Department and a member of the CIB, told the Terre Haute Redevelopment Commission the project includes a 41,834-square-foot convention center and a 458-space convention center parking garage.

In August, the Vigo County Capital Improvement Board accepted a guaranteed maximum construction price of $24,633,566 from Garmong Construction Services.

Hard construction costs, Witt said in March, are $25,413,893, which included new expenses such as $600,000 for water utility expenses, plus more than $107,000 for utility fees for electrical and data and telecommunications.

Reporter Howard Greninger can be reached 812-231-4204 or howard.greninger@tribstar.com. Follow on Twitter@TribStarHoward.

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