Gary schools say bank deal still on table
By Carole Carlson firstname.lastname@example.org November 2, 2012 9:31AM
The Gary State Bank building is seen at the corner of 5th Avenue and Broadway in downtown Gary, Ind. Wednesday October 24, 2012. | Stephanie Dowell~Sun-Times Media
Updated: December 4, 2012 6:09AM
GARY — School officials say a deal to acquire the former Gary State Bank at 504 Broadway is still alive, despite the cancellation of a press conference Friday with the property owner.
School officials said Friday the plan to accept the building as a donation was still in the works.
“The offer is still on the table, we’re basically still doing our due diligence,” said school spokeswoman Charmella Greer.
EFN Gary Property LLC, based in Westmont, Ill., was expected to donate the 10-story landmark building to the Gary Community School Corp. on Friday. The company is headed by Ed Napleton who owns auto dealerships in three states,
The School Board did meet in executive session Thursday night, but it’s unclear if the bank donation was discussed.
The School Board voted to accept the donation by a 5-2 vote on Oct. 23. One board member, who opposed the deal, said it would cost millions to renovate the 85-year-old building the district planned to turn into its central office headquarters and possibly open a charter school.
Friday was supposed to be the closing date.
School district attorney Robert Lewis said Friday things were still being worked on regarding the bank transaction. “I don’t want to get into things; we’re still talking,” he said. “Obviously, there will be some news at some point.”
In a statement last week, school officials said the bank building needed “minimal work” and Napleton agreed to take care of existing problems. A cost analysis was being done comparing expenses between moving and staying at the current 620 E. 10th Place central office location where there are problems with the roof and boiler system.
The district hopes to renovate the building with tax increment financing, tax credits, and private equity.
Board member Marion Williams, who opposed the bank acquisition, felt the building was worth less than the $2 million figure given to the board. “I still haven’t seen a certified appraisal,” he said Friday.