The Philip Sheridan Building on Elmwood Avenue is a relic, a monument to a time in the 1950 and 1960s when the Kenmore-Town of Tonawanda School District could not keep up with the community's growth and the student population swelled to more than 22,000 in nearly two dozen schools.
The enrollment today is not even a third of what it was at its peak and Philip Sheridan will never again be a school. But district officials hope the building can still be an asset.
At its meeting at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, the school board will decide whether it needs the building at 3200 Elmwood Ave. anymore. It is likely to ask for solicitations for future uses. By March 13, the board expects to move from the Philip Sheridan Building into its new offices in the the former Kenmore Middle School. It will have to have a second vote to put a proposition to sell the Philip Sheridan Building on the May 15 ballot.
"I don't think anyone wants a vacant building sitting in the town or village," said John Brucato, the assistant superintendent for finance. "It's a great property on Elmwood Avenue, so it is very marketable as well."
The Ken-Ton school district is still among the largest in Upstate New York with 7,000 students, but it has been forced to close 16 buildings in the last three decades. Some have been converted into community centers. One school became a church. A few such as the Philip Sheridan Building, an elementary school until 1983, have been converted to other school uses. Others have been converted into apartments.
Brucato said he has asked the school board to consider it a priority to sell the building to a buyer who wants to repurpose the building for apartments.
The two-floor building is more than 72,000 square feet and sits on 8 acres of Elmwood Avenue just north of Sheridan Drive. The building has an estimated value of $3.1 million, according to town records. Brucato said there are plenty of interested buyers, including those who would like to convert the building to apartments.
The property includes a ballpark which is landlocked behind the building, said Brucato. The future of the park remains in flux as the district searches for a buyer and weighs what a buyer and voters would like to do with the park.
Three tenants are using the Philip Sheridan Building, with contracts that run through the end of June – Buffalo Turner's Gymnastics, Blue Giraffe Daycare and Citizen Science Community Resources, which has an office where it is working with the University at Buffalo to test 300 soil samples across the Kenmore, Tonawanda and Grand Island and determine the impact from the Tonawanda Coke plant.
CSCR Director Jackie James-Creedon said the group is searching for a new office.