A more appealing proposal to keep the Brainerd School District's Early Childhood Family Education program at the East Brainerd Mall may be possible, school officials learned Wednesday.
Paul Bloom, Brainerd Community Education director, told the Brainerd School Board on Wednesday about a new proposal from Oppidan Inc., a merchant development company from Minnetonka.
The district currently leases space at the mall for the ECFE program. Oppidan plans to redevelop the mall, leaving the future location of the ECFE program in question.
Bloom has been working with Oppidan representative Paul Tucci on options to keep the ECFE program at the mall. The company previously wanted to lease 26,000 square feet to the district for child and adult education classes and meeting areas for 15 years, with three additional options to extend the lease for an additional five years each. Board members thought the school district would not need this much room.
Currently, the district leases 8,000 square feet in the mall. The lease expires in July 2002.
Under the new proposal, Oppidan would lease 20,000 square feet to the school district in two phases of 10,000 square feet each. The district would lease the space for the same amount of time as under the first proposal.
The space the company is offering to the school district is in between J.C. Penney and the proposed Cub Foods site at the other end of the mall, and is in the rear portion of the current interior mall.
"This package is a lot more appealing," said Bloom. "But this could change by Monday."
Monday, the school board will meet to decide what to do with the proposal.
Bloom said the new proposal meets the district's space needs better. The ECFE program would take up the first phase of 10,000 square feet and the district's Area Education Center and the Middle Level Alternative Program would be located in the other 10,000 square feet.
The AEC is currently located at St. Andrew's Church and uses 5,900 square feet of space. The alternative program is currently located in a white house behind Mississippi Horizons and uses 2,300 square feet.
Oppidan is offering to lease the space at $8.50 per square foot -- 50 cents per square foot cheaper than what the school is paying currently. For the AEC the district pays $6.13 per square feet. The total lease cost for the 20,000 square feet would be $170,000.
If the school board approves the agreement with Oppidan, it would have 60 days to move the ECFE program into the new space, which would be available in October.
Also in the agreement the district would not be penalized for terminating its current lease with the mall for the space it uses.
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