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Guilford County Schools Plans to Sell Five Office Buildings

March 19, 2024 – Continuing the Strategic Direction shared commitment to operate efficiently to maximize resources for students, Guilford County Schools (GCS) is planning to sell five office buildings and relocate central office staff to a single property in midtown Greensboro.

At its meeting on Tuesday, the Guilford County Board of Education directed staff to explore the option of surplusing and eventually selling the district's legacy office buildings on Eugene Street, Washington Street, Market Street, Prescott Street and Laughlin Professional Development Center on Summerfield Road in Summerfield. In addition, the board authorized staff to negotiate the purchase of the former ITG Brands building, formerly known as the Lorillard Headquarters, located at 714 Green Valley Drive.

Background

The Facilities Master Plan, released in 2019, included closing 11 administrative buildings. The 2022 Bond Projects included an allocation of $30 million to consolidate the many repurposed office spaces used by GCS for its employees performing work outside of school buildings.

Currently, there are more than five sites throughout the county housing employees performing services such as financial services, curriculum and instruction planning, exceptional children services, facilities and planning, human resources and many other departments and employees who support, directly and indirectly, the classroom instruction of our students. 

Collaboration is essential in education; collaboration for a staff spread over a large county has been difficult and not cost-effective. The current administrative facilities are all repurposed buildings designed for other uses, old, lacking in technology, and with few meeting spaces suitable for 21st-century planning. These buildings are not energy efficient, and there are significant costs for old facilities that need maintenance and upkeep, including mowing and custodial services.

Selling Four Prime Real Estate Properties Downtown Greensboro

The board plans to use the proceeds from the sale of the properties currently in use for our non-school staff to replace the county funds used to purchase and upfit the new building. 

By selling the district's real estate on Eugene Street, Washington Street, Market Street, Prescott Street and Laughlin in Summerfield, the district is returning those properties to the county's tax base, which could be used for various projects, including commercial and residential developments.

All district-owned property must be offered first to the Guilford County Board of Commissioners before being authorized for sale at market value. The five GCS buildings were built in the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s, predating the merger between Greensboro City Schools, High Point City Schools and Guilford County Schools in 1993. 

"With the real estate market booming, now is an excellent time to consolidate space and sell our downtown properties," said Board Member Crissy Pratt. "It makes sense economically and from a logistical standpoint for our district to have fewer buildings and more staff under one roof."

New Central Office

GCS has been presented with an opportunity to preserve a building in our community without resorting to bond funds at a cost significantly below any amount anticipated in our joint planning with the Guilford County Board of Commissioners. The ITG property has been offered to GCS at a very reasonable price of $9.5 million. The ITG property site is approximately 7.7 acres with 144,000 heated square feet and will house more than 400 employees. The building is centrally located, right off Wendover Avenue, and has sufficient offices and parking to house GCS employees. It is nearly move-in ready, with only minor upfitting needs.

The cost of the Green Valley Road property is far more cost-effective than purchasing land and constructing a comparable new facility or purchasing a similar commercial office building. For example, the City of Wilmington paid approximately $183 per square foot for its new $68 million municipal building compared to an estimated $66 per square foot GCS will pay to purchase the ITG property. Similarly, the U.S. General Services Administration spent $1,066 per square foot to renovate the Charlotte U.S. Courthouse Annex and Charles R. Jonas Federal Building Renovation for $129 million. 

The district plans to move staff in the 24-25 fiscal year. The new property includes systems in good repair, extensive technology, security, furniture and equipment that will be provided at no additional cost to GCS, minimizing what it will take to make a consolidated central office a reality for the first time since the merger. 

"We want to thank Steve Shavitz, Lowell Easter and Deep River Properties for providing us with this opportunity and working hard with GCS to bring this opportunity to fruition,” said Board of Education Chair Deena Hayes. “We appreciate ITG's cooperation as we considered the suitability of the property and the guidance of the County Manager Mike Halford, the Guilford County Board of Commissioners and particularly Chairman Skip Alston, as we looked at the feasibility of the purchase. This is a bright day in Guilford County."

Looking Into the Future

GCS has consistently made national news over the last two years for its innovative work, including significant investments in learning recovery, mental health, safety and 21st-century schools. Most recently, the White House highlighted GCS for its high-dosage tutoring program and Superintendent Dr. Whitney Oakley was named a Superintendent to Watch by the National School Public Relations Association. Bringing together the teams responsible for the district's instructional services, non-instructional services, and operations will help boost teamwork, productivity, communication, creativity and innovation.

"My goal is to make Guilford County Schools the best place to learn, work and grow," said Oakley. "As we grow, our community will too. I am excited for the opportunity to bring our team together under one roof so we can continue to innovate as we improve student achievement at scale."

Staff could move into the new facility as soon as this fall once the sale is complete. GCS is expected to retain all furniture and fixtures in the ITG building. GCS will also maintain its remaining office spaces located throughout the county until sold.