2017-06-16 / Front Page

School district to sell headquarters for $10.2M

SVUSD also buying new building

AGREEMENTS REACHED—Simi Valley Unified School District is selling its Educational Service Center at 875 Cochran St. and buying a new building about a mile away to relocate its main offices. 
ACORN FILE PHOTO AGREEMENTS REACHED—Simi Valley Unified School District is selling its Educational Service Center at 875 Cochran St. and buying a new building about a mile away to relocate its main offices. ACORN FILE PHOTO The Simi Valley Unified School District announced this week that it is selling its Cochran Street headquarters and purchasing a new building about a mile away.

During a special meeting Tuesday, the district entered into contracts to sell the three parcels that make up the SVUSD Educational Service Center at 875 Cochran St.

The district also entered into a purchase agreement to buy a new building at 101 W. Cochran St., located west of Madera Road, where it will move its main offices.

The move will consolidate almost all of the district’s operations under one roof, with a building that is newer and better suited for the district’s needs, and at a cost that is equal to the proceeds from the sale of the current location and other surplus property, officials said.

“We are incredibly excited about the potential in this property,” SVUSD Superintendent Jason Peplinski said. “Our staff and the community have waited a long time for a facility that better reflects our professionalism and modern aesthetic. With this move, we’ll be able to bring almost our entire district staff family under the same roof and operate more efficiently, safely and comfortably.”

The $13.5-million building at 101 W. Cochran St. will be paid for using the proceeds of this week’s sale of the district’s headquarters, last year’s sale of its Wood Ranch Conference Center and surplus property funds.

Earlier this year, the district’s current property was subdivided into three parcels, including the main building in the front, the warehouse and truck park in the middle, and the vacant land in the back of the property. Sold to three different buyers, the combined sale price of the three parcels is $10.2 million.

The Wood Ranch property sold last year for $3 million.

The new center sits on about 7 acres of land. The main building was constructed in 1981 and was expanded and renovated in 2000. It totals 120,075 square feet and has a warehouse and loading bays of comparable size to the current facility, many offices, conference rooms, sound studios and plenty of parking for employees.

“This building will better serve our community,” Peplinski said. “We have plans to bring the community into this building for different events and public meetings. Our current building is not user-friendly. It’s badly in need of repairs.”

The district’s current home was built in 1970 and has about 60,000 square feet. When it was built, Cochran Street was open to street parking. When the city changed that, the district office had to reorient the main door to the back of the building, eliminating the reception area.

When voters passed the Measure C4 bond in 2004, it allowed for the renovation of the district office. But when construction costs started to rise and affect SVUSD’s ability to complete campus repairs and upgrades, the district decided to instead use the money earmarked for the office to complete needed projects at the schools. Since then, only essential maintenance has been done to the building to keep it functional for staff.

“We designed the building to the needs of that day,” said Pedro Avila, SVUSD director of facilities. “But four decades have gone by and we haven’t had a major renovation to serve our current needs. Now we’re just trying to make things work.”

About 120 employees work at the district office, which was filled to capacity years ago.

Portable offices have been used for many years to house employees. In recent years, the district walled off the main entrance along Cochran Street to create more offices for employees.

The aging building is in need of a costly renovation for operational and safety purposes.

The building is not compliant with current Americans with Disability Act building codes. The heating and air conditioning systems in part of the building need to be replaced.

District leaders explored the possibility of constructing a new building for their purposes, but the cost was nearly the same as buying a building.

Since construction would have happened on the existing district property, the district would have lost out on the proceeds from selling that property, which is now being used for the new purchase.

“ There’s something that makes much more sense about reclaiming one of Simi Valley’s many large existing buildings and bringing new purpose to it,” Peplinski said. “This building is nearly perfect for our needs and is basically move-in ready.”

Ron Todo, associate superintendent of business and facilities, said the district would likely be moved into the new building by the end of the year if all goes as scheduled.

Article courtesy of Simi Valley Unified School District.

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