Land deal could put Central City Hall complex at old Central Middle site

The Central School Board agreed unanimously Monday that it would be willing to sell to the city of Central 14 of the 29 acres it owns at the corner of Hooper and Sullivan roads to turn into a City Hall complex and community center.

“This is just a concept. It’s not set in stone,” said James Gardner, the School Board’s president.

The property, which until 2012 was the home of Central Middle School, is one of several properties the city is considering.

“This idea is just one step,” said Jon Simmons, a member of the city’s site selection committee.

A month ago, school leaders expressed more skepticism about the idea. In the past, the school system had offered to lease some of the property to the city, but the city did not go for the idea.

Gardner said in meetings this month that city representatives have downscaled their request, seeking not to buy all but just some of the property.

The board’s Facilities/Equipment Committee discussed the idea at length Wednesday night and ultimately recommended parting with 14 acres.

“It encompasses the back end of the property,” board member Jim Lloyd said.

Gardner said the old Central Middle School property was the second-highest-rated property on the city’s list, behind more than 90 acres at Joor Road and Gurney Road. But he said that rating was based upon acquiring the entire 29 acres, not just 14 acres.

Plans for a new municipal complex have been in the works for years.

In addition to a building for City Hall, the city is looking for space that could encompass meeting rooms, a walking path or possible park, as well as enough space for expansion that could add other amenities and provide an area for some commercial projects, Barrow said.

The city leases three suites at 13421 Hooper Road for the Central Police Department and City Hall. The city uses the Kristenwood Building on Greenwell Springs Road, a catering and reception facility, for Central City Council meetings.

The city has discussed building a City Hall complex between 10,000 and 11,000 square feet. The state has earmarked about $2 million in capital outlay funding for a new Central municipal complex, and the city’s general fund has more than $8 million in reserves to draw upon.