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Lincoln school building in Willmar, Minn., may be demolished

The Willmar School District has received little interest in the former Lincoln Elementary School building since the school closed two years ago. Superintendent Jerry Kjergaard says he wants to sell the building or tear it down. Tribune photo by Gary Miller

WILLMAR -- After generating little interest in three years on the market, the former Lincoln Elementary School in Willmar may be nearing its last days.

The Willmar School Board discussed demolishing the building at its meeting last week.

The school was closed several years ago when the district reorganized and consolidated its operation, closing two small, aging buildings.

One of the buildings, Washington Learning Center, was sold some time ago. However, Lincoln has been on the market for almost three years.

"We've never had a written offer," said Superintendent Jerry Kjergaard.

Some potential buyers have ex-pressed interest in Lincoln but backed out when they learned the cost to make the building usable.

It could cost as much as $500,000 to $1 million to bring the building up to current code, Kjergaard said. The oldest part of the building was built in 1924, and sections were added in 1957 and 1965.

"We're coming to the point where knocking the building down is the best option," board member Mike Reynolds said. He is a member of the board's buildings and grounds committee, which has been studying the situation.

"This is an emotional issue; I went there," Reynolds said. "If somebody thinks they might like it, make us an offer."

The district spends about $30,000 a year to heat the building. Kjergaard said he's received estimates that it could cost as much as $250,000 to demolish it.

At a meeting in October or November, the board may consider a contract with an architect to oversee demolition and asbestos removal, Kjergaard said.

The board had discussed auctioning the building, but that probably will not work, said board member Sandi Unger, another building and grounds committee member. "To have a successful auction, we need two interested bidders, and we don't have that."

The lot at the corner of Trott Avenue and Julii Street in southeastern Willmar may be worth more without the building on it, Unger added.

Kjergaard said the district has already removed all usable equipment from the kitchen and elsewhere in the school. The contractor who does the demolition may be able to make some money from selling pipes and other items salvaged from the building.

Linda Vanderwerf

I cover education issues for the West Central Tribune and have worked for the paper since 1995. I have worked in journalism since 1981.

Follow me on Twitter: @lindavanderwerf

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