Holtzman offers bid on old Triplett school building

MOUNT JACKSON – A Mount Jackson man presented plans to convert the old Triplett school building into a theater, frozen yogurt shop and restaurant at Tuesday’s Town Council meeting.

Todd Holtzman said he and his partner, Dexter Mumaw, would also build either 14 or 15 duplex units on the same property in the land behind the school.

“This can be a model of what small towns can do with old school buildings like this,” Holtzman said.

To purchase the property, Holtzman will pay a total of $550,000 to the town up front with an additional $120,000 to come down the line in water tap fees. The property itself costs $250,000, but Holtzman will pay an additional $300,000 up front for the first water tap fees.

On the other hand, should the town reject his bid, it will continue to pay between $60,000 and $100,000 annually to maintain the building, and roughly $500,000 out of pocket if it refurbishes the building for community use, according to figures provided by Public Properties Committee Chairwoman Whitney Miller.

Councilman Dennis L. Andrick added that along with the cost of the refurbishment and maintenance, the building will likely need a new roof within five to 10 years. He said it doesn’t make sense for the town to keep the building.

“It’s just not feasible,” Andrick said.

In congruence, Councilman Roger Rudy said along with other additional costs, the town will also need to pay to make the building handicap accessible if it decides to keep the property.

In his proposal, Holtzman said he believes the renovated school building will improve both the town and his new duplex units. He said he will offer the gymnasium – for free – to a local theater in a 20-year lease if the theater chips in for utilities.

Although Theatre Shenandoah turned down Holtzman’s proposal last week, the Schultz Theatre in New Market is still considering.

As far as resident response goes, the comments at the public hearing were mixed. Both Rhonda Bowers and Fay Bowers of Mount Jackson spoke against the town’s selling of the building and said it should stay with the community.

“The land behind the building should be used for all,” Rhonda Bowers said.

Area resident Bill Ryan and Planning Commissioner Robert Whitehurst Jr. spoke in favor of the town selling the school building.

“I think it’s a wonderful idea that he’ll (Holtzman) will take it,” Ryan said.

Following the public hearing and council discussion, the council agreed to send consideration of the bid back to the public properties committee. The committee and the council are set to make a final decision of whether or not to accept the bid at the Town Council’s August meeting.

Contact staff writer Jake Zuckerman at 540-465-5137 ext. 152, or jzuckerman@nvdaily.com