BYU has bought the Provo High School 25-acre property for $25 million. The sale will close in June or July, and BYU will lease back the building and fields to the district at no cost for 30 months, when the new high school is constructed.
Last fall, the school district announced that it had been approached about selling Provo High, which it had planned to rebuild at the existing site on University Avenue using money from a bond passed in 2014. It studied the issue, then announced that it would sell the school and build a new school in west Provo. At the time, district had hired an architect for the rebuild, who had met with stakeholders and teachers, studied the current building and done a needs assessment. The district budgeted $55.5 million in the bond to rebuild the school, and most of the $25 million from the school sale will go to the new Provo High School, said Provo School Board President Julie Rash.
Though the district already had planned to rebuild Provo High at the old site, parts of the old building would have remained. So in constructing a new school, it will be building more square feet and the cost will be higher. “Money from sale will allow us to build the school we need,” she said.
Provo School District will break ground for the new Provo High School, at 1300 N. Lakeshore Drive, at 4 p.m. Wednesday, with a completion date on track for fall 2018.
BYU hasn’t decided what it will do with the property once the 30 months is up, said Carri Jenkins, BYU spokeswoman. BYU wants to purchase the property because it was available and a good opportunity, and now that the purchase is in process, the university will start planning what to do with the land.
“Through these many decades, Provo High School has been a good neighbor to BYU,” said BYU President Kevin J Worthen. “We wish the students, faculty and administration well as they carry on the traditions and achievements of Provo High in its new location.”
There were other buyers for the property, but none of them could offer what BYU could, Rash said.
“It’s a very generous offer from BYU,” she said. “We did talk to other prospective buyers, but that $25 million was on its own the highest offer.”
Plus, BYU can close on the deal, pay the $25 million and not take possession of the property for 30 months — and not charge the district for using the property for those 30 months, Rash said. Developers couldn’t offer those terms.
“While we appreciate the interest and commitment and professionalism of the other parties, BYU was in a position to offer us things to make this deal pretty remarkable for school district,” she said.
Rash said it was a difficult decision for the board to make, and that none of them took it lightly. “The reason it’s been a long process is not because we’re trying to hide anything … but because we want to get it right. I’m confident that we go this right.”
Updated on Tuesday, April 26 at 12:30 p.m. to include interviews.