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Legal issue delays sale of Bonne Terre Elementary

BONNE TERRE — A slight legal problem has delayed the final sale of the old Bonne Terre Elementary School to Sharo Shirshekan.

North County Superintendent Dr. Terry Gibbons said some of the deeds from the Doe Run Company to the school district stipulate that the property must be used for school purposes only.

The Doe Run Company is actually the successor to the party that deeded the land to the district. The original party — Bonne Terre Farming and Cattle Company, which was a part of St. Joe Minerals, no longer exists.

A Doe Run Company official said all deeds have been sent to the corporate office and the corporate attorney is working with the other parties to determine how best to remedy the situation.

She said they are trying to determine if a release is required.

“If a release is required, it would have to come from (Doe Run),” she said.

Gibbons said Doe Run is trying to work out the problem as quickly as they can “but it takes time.”

“We don’t have a time frame,” he said. “We’re just hoping in the near future… so Sharo can move ahead.”

Shirshekan is the owner of several nursing homes including St. Joe Manor — the former Bonne Terre hospital. He plans to purchase the old Bonne Terre Elementary property and make anywhere from $4 to $4.5 million of improvements to it.

The school board had accepted his proposal out of two received in January and had planned to close on the deal within the next 30 days.

Shirshekan doesn’t anticipate the deed will cause much of a problem except that it will delay the start of the project at least 60 to 90 days. He said he was hoping that by now they would be moving full-speed ahead.

He said the property does not involve the land the buildings sit on — just part of the ballpark area. He said if it does turn out to be a problem, he may let the school donate the land to the city directly.

Shirshekan, who lives in Farmington, has said they won’t even begin remodeling the buildings until asbestos has been removed. He said he will hire one company to remove the asbestos and an independent company to monitor the air quality to make sure it stays within the Department of Natural Resources’ guidelines. He believes asbestos removal will take about six months.

Once the asbestos is removed from the gym and new tile and ceiling are put down, Shirshekan will donate the gym back to the school district. He hopes the school will have the gym back by next fall.

Gibbons said the district had wanted to keep the gym for school programs and practices but it was in need of repair. Shirshekan estimates it will cost about $80,000 to make improvements to the gym.

In addition, the school will have the use of the parking lot and the ballfields, which will be owned and maintained by the city’s park system. As part of the proposal, the district will also be paid about $50,000.

The old high school will be used by the city as a city hall and a police department. Shirshekan has said the agreement between him and the city will be “a sort of a lease with an option to buy.”

Shirshekan would keep ownership of what was added on to the original high school. The section of building attached to the old high school will be used for office space. He believes it would be ideal and affordable for small businesses.

The lower elementary building will be converted into senior citizen housing, approximately 100 apartments.

On the parking lot side of the building, he plans to create a small strip mall for specialty shops such as a coffee shop or religious store. He said that building will take on a European style.

He believes his part of the project, the senior housing and strip mall, will take about two and a half years to complete.

While the remodeling part is on hold, an auction will be held at the old elementary school at 10 a.m. Saturday.

The primary purpose is for the district to sell the furniture, kitchen appliances and other property left behind in the old elementary school.

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