By GREG RUSSELL, Register Staff Writer
Gainesville — After several years of developmental limbo, the J.M. Lindsay school building on Gainesville's Lindsay Street is destined to expire in favor of new housing. But the timeline of demolition remains tentative.
Attorney and former Gainesville Independent School District Board of Trustees member Phil Adams, who took ownership of the building in December from Grace Allen Real Estate, verified the building will not be salvaged. He added that he couldn't disclose what he paid for the premises.
"I believe that eventually, the building will be torn down," Adams said Friday. "It's very sad to me that this going to have to happen. I went to school there, my brother went there and so did a lot of my friends. And this property has served a great purpose, and now, it's time for it to serve another purpose."
Adams said the property will become host to seven or eight single-family houses, all of them an expected minimum of 2,500 square feet and subject to the standards of the neighborhood. He also said he is currently examining bids from demolition companies.
"There are three lots already spoken for, contingent on the building being torn down," he said.
In September 2010, the Register reported that the Gainesville school district had closed the school on Lindsay Street after it opened two new facilities, Robert E. Lee Intermediate and Chalmers Elementary. In the same story, Grace Ellen realtor Greg Sowko said his company purchased the 22,000-square foot building on 2.64 acres for a very reasonable price."
"It was a good deal, and at the time we had hoped to develop the property," Sowko said in the earlier story, adding that the economic climate had put a damper on those plans.
However, Sowko also said in September 2010 he felt the two-story brick building had retained a lot of potential. "Structurally, it's a good building. It could be an asset to the community," he said. "It could be renovated and used as a church. I think there was talk of turning it into a county library at one time. I personally think it would be perfect for a youth center."
Terms of reality
In discussing possibilities, Adams said Friday that ideas to keep and convert the building may seem fine in theory, but are dubious in any other light. "It sat there seven years," he said. "And if somebody has an idea and they want to take it and do that, I'd welcome any suggestion. But I've studied this and this is what needs to happen. With the condition the building is in and the amount of money you'd have to spend on it to bring it up to code? It was just not economically feasible. "I don't want to invite anybody to do anything else with it," he said. "From a feasibility standpoint, this is just about all you can do."
Adams, who attended the school from 1955 through 1959, said the past few idle years haven't been kind to the J.M. Lindsay school building, originally built in 1931. Vandals have "totally trashed" the interiors, he said, and time has idled the facility into a substandard place.
Recent attempts to clean debris from the school building took two weeks. Adams said he didn't want the destiny of the J.M. Lindsay building to finally be a sad tale. He added that he has his own cherished memories of the school, as do other students, and that the facility at its peak will always be preserved through photos. "It's very disheartening," he said. "But I've reasoned this and looked at it, and there's nothing else to do."