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Winchester School Committee Seeking Lease Proposals for 'Carriage House'

The deadline for 'Statements of Interest' is Friday, Jan. 11.

The following is from the Winchester Public Schools.

REQUEST for STATEMENTS OF INTEREST for the CARRIAGE HOUSE

The Winchester School Committee is seeking Statements of Interest in a long-term lease of the physical plant known as the "Carriage House" on the Ambrose Elementary School Campus bordered by Cambridge St. (RT 3), High St., Westland Ave. and Oneida Rd.

(see footnote at bottom of announcement)

Built in 1906, the 4,600sf 2-story Carriage House is a unique and historic structure situated between the Ambrose Elementary School (built 2005) with a current enrollment of 518 K-5 students and the Sanborn House (built 1906), the latter of which is under long-term lease to the Winchester Historical Society which has assumed stewardship for the historic structure's renovation and re-use as a community asset.

Decades of a variety of uses and occupants has seen the interior of the Carriage House gutted and renovated more than once.  Since June of 2000, the building has sat vacant with only a minimum of capital spent maintaining the envelope (exterior walls and roof) and slowing deterioration of this special facility.  The Carriage House is a property of the Winchester Public Schools.  The School Committee, in accordance with M.G.L. Ch.40, Sec. 3, wishes to consider the potential for a long-term lease (10 years with options for renewal) to preserve the building. 

While the building envelope and structure are sound, years of limited maintenance and investment have left the property in need of substantial upgrades and improvements.  In the spring of 2012 the Town of Winchester engaged Boston architectural firm Tappe Associates to assess the physical plant and provide an estimate of costs for repair, renovation, and interior fit-up.  These documents were delivered in April and are available upon written request to any interested parties (contact information below).

The School Committee's designated subcommittee on this project—the CHDSC—is accepting Statements of Interest for a long-term lease of the Carriage House.  It is important to note that any prospective tenant must take on a substantial portion of renovation costs of the facility, which—depending on use and determination of scope—may approach one million dollars.  The CHDSC welcomes proposals for only a portion of the building, as there may be an opportunity for more than one tenant to occupy the facility.

Interested parties are invited to express written interest including the following.

  1. Description of the organization and its proposed use of the Carriage House property
  2. Respondent's business plan (detailed financial plan not required at this time)
  3. Hours of operation and parking requirements anticipated
  4. Description of how proposal will be funded (capital on hand, borrowing, fund-raising)

In addressing Section 3, respondents are encouraged to provide detail as to the parking requirements and time of day for peak vehicular traffic anticipated.  One of the CHDSC’s metrics for evaluation will be the separation of circulation and activity on the Ambrose campus to ensure the safety of Ambrose students and staff.

The property is zoned as a Conservancy Institutional District [SCI] whose permitted uses include—but are not limited to—museums, libraries, educational programs, childcare centers, and religious organizations.  For more information on the SCI district designation and permitted uses both with and without special permits required, please consult the Winchester Zoning Bylaw available at Town Hall.

A tour of the property is available on December 19 at 1PM (snow/storm date of 12/20).

Statements of Interest must be delivered by Friday, 11 January 2013 to:

CHDSC c/o Freda Canavan
154 Horn Pond Brook Road
Winchester, MA  01890

Questions may be submitted in writing to the same address or by email to Ms. Freda Canavan, School Committee Secretary at fcanavan@winchester.k12.ma.us.  We will make every effort to respond to questions within five (5) business days and will make all questions and responses available upon request.  We ask that no questions be submitted after Friday, January 4.  The CHDSC anticipates a period of internal review of proposals with follow-up to respondents and preliminary recommendations to the School Committee on next steps in late January or early February.

Thank you for your interest in the Carriage House.  We look forward to your proposals.

The Carriage House Disposition Subcommittee [CHDSC]:

James Johnson, Board of Selectmen
William McAlduff, WPS Superintendent
Christian Nixon, Winchester School Committee

This Request for Statements of Interest [RSOI] does not constitute an offer to lease the subject property. Any Statements of Interest selected by the CHDSC for further evaluation and consideration by the School Committee shall be non-binding and reviewed strictly on a conceptual basis so as to guide the School Committee in its next steps.  Any subsequent determination to rent, lease, or otherwise dispose of the property (including advertising and Requests for Proposals) shall be in compliance with M.G.L. Chapter 30B, Section 16.

JT December 12, 2012 at 05:34 PM
Initiating a request for proposals of lease interest in the carriage house on the Ambrose campus seems to indicate sound fiscal policy on the school committee's part as well as motivation to restore and preserve the this building full of character. Hopefully a positive result will eventually come from this opportunity, including whatever requirements need to be addressed and guaranteed to ensure traffic safety while entering and exiting the property particularly during Ambrose school hours when children are on site.
Sox Fan December 12, 2012 at 08:47 PM
Does anyone know what the original purpose of the carriage house was? How did it come to be owned by the schools? and why was it vacant for over 12 years? Also, would the Historical Society take on a lease for the carriage house as well?
Pats December 15, 2012 at 09:18 PM
The Historical Society is not meeting its commitments spelled out in their lease on the Sanborn House. They have no money for the Carriage House. They want to 'lease' it for no money and then keep it mothballed for 7-15 years until they have the money. Umm, how about the Town making some money on the property over the next 15 years? How about ensuring the building does not continue to deteriorate? How about ensuring the safety of the Ambrose kids? If we wait for the Historical Society that building will likely need to be torn down for safety reasons as rot and mold take over.
Pats December 15, 2012 at 09:21 PM
Agreed on the safety issue during Ambrose School hours. The Superintendent publicly stated at a School Committee meeting about 6-9 months ago that he only would want a tenant that generates minimal traffic and almost none at school begin/end times. Parking and traffic flow are a big concern at Ambrose. The Principal is out every morning monitoring traffic, putting up cones, and redirecting vehicles.
Donna Diaco January 02, 2013 at 12:31 AM
Agenda 21.

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