Danedri Thompson
The old school house is salvageable, consultant Julie Cawby, told members of the Spring Hill city council.
“We found that the building has quite a few exterior issues,” she said. “…It is savable, and it can be rehabilitated to your needs.”
On Thursday, council approved a November ballot initiative that will offer voters the opportunity to decide whether to save the old school building.
Council member Darrell Beck voted against putting the  initiative. The ballot question will ask whether the city should let bonds for the cost of renovation.
The bonds will likely have an impact on property tax rates, but city officials have not said exactly what that might be.
If voters decline the measure, the building will be destroyed.
Cawby’s firm, Treanor Architects, was hired to determine how much the city would need to spend to bring the building up to existing code and outfit it for use. City officials have no plans for the building if renovated, but residents have been divided on allowing the old structure to be demolished.
Cawby, historical preservation architect with Treanor, told the council that it would cost approximately $1.5 million to renovate and restore the building for use as office space. The figure includes purchasing furniture and bringing the structure up to existing code.
She advised council members against creating a single-story structure out of the two-story building saying the costs per square foot would be prohibitive. Instead, she recommended if voters approve the expenditure that renovations include adding a lift to make the building ADA compliant.
It would include shoring up the wall that adjoins the Civic Center gym. Mayor Mark Squire asked how much shoring the wall would cost if the building was razed.
Cawby said she was unsure.
“But the gym is actually constructed on top of the school,” she explained.
Renovations would also include an additional 15 parking spaces and the destruction of a portion of the building.
Cawby said the cost per square foot would be approximately $145 for renovations.
Council member Steven Ellis wondered how that compared to the cost of building new.
“I think that’s very close to new construction, but I don’t have those numbers,” she said.
Jonathan Roberts said for a new police station, it would cost  $220 per square foot.
And Cawby said, with new construction, the city would get a different type of building.
In other business, council members:
• amended a final plat for Prairie Ridge Subdivision. Under the initial plat plan – approved in 2007, developers would’ve created 78 homes in the first phase of construction. The amended plan will allow builders to start with 13.
• held a budget public hearing and approved a $13 million budget for 2011 with a slight mill levy decrease. The budget contains a slight mill levy rate decrease. No one from the public commented on the proposed budget before council members approved it unanimously.