GCPS buys back its headquarters

SUWANEE -- Board of Education members Thursday night approved the $52 million purchase of district headquarters in Suwanee, ending a years-long lease with a private investment group.

Originally purchased in 2004, Gwinnett County Public Schools officials sold the Instructional Support Center in 2005 in order to generate the money to build two new elementary schools and part of a third one.

When it was sold in 2005, investors leasing it back to GCPS agreed to renovate the former manufacturing plant into a central office. The district had been leasing the property back since 2005.

Included in lease agreement details was the option for the district to buy the central office facility back on July 1, 2013. In a unanimous vote Thursday, the board approved its purchase for $52 million effective on the agreed-upon date.

Since 2005, the district has paid $26 million in lease payments.

Chief Financial Officer Rick Cost said that the decision to buy the building in 2004 -- and then again in 2013 -- was financially sound.

"Even though the dollar amount of leasing for nine years was higher than the original purchase price ($12.5 million), the fact is we've had nine years to use that money and use it for these three elementary schools," Cost said.

District spokeswoman Sloan Roach said that when the district sold the property in 2005 (for $17 million), it was "during a time when we had some extreme needs for classrooms."

Officials with GCPS used the proceeds from the 2005 sale to build Mulberry Elementary, Patrick Elementary and part of Lovin Elementary School.

Roach said that the district's "goal, all along, has been to buy the building and to own it."

The 370,000 square-foot facility sits on 46 acres and serves the needs of about 750 support staff, who are housed there. In addition, the space is used for school board meetings, training and professional development.

The ISC is located at 437 Old Peachtree Road N.W., Suwanee.


Gwinnettsince1991 1 year, 11 months ago

Funny (sarcasm) that they spend 52 million the day they increase our taxes. So in other words, the people of Gwinnett County are buying this building. And yet, our teachers, the people who work really hard to achieve what they achieve have not had a pay increase in five years. Bad management.


jack 1 year, 11 months ago

This is the second time the people of Gwinnett County are buying this building.
Along with all the rent paid.


Why_not 1 year, 11 months ago

I would love to know who owned the building and received the lease payments and made the profit on the purchase.


Linda 1 year, 11 months ago

GWINNETT INSTRUCTIONAL SC LLC owns the property, tax assessors website, the question is who owns GWINNETT INSTRUCTIONAL SC LLC ? Seems GWINNETT INSTRUCTIONAL SC LLC made a lot of money from Gwinnett county tax payers.


Why_not 1 year, 11 months ago

After checking with the online site for the Secretary of States office, it appears that everything is hidden within several legal firms. I have been unable to find the names of any officers of the LLC. Seems that this should be available under the open records act


Karl 1 year, 11 months ago

Please keep digging and let us know. Thanks.


GwinnettResident2001 1 year, 11 months ago

The LLC spent about $27MM in renovations on the building between the time it was sold for $17MM, so while the $52MM looks like a big spread, it's actually only an $8MM difference when you factor in the renovations.


Basically, the sale of the building amounted to a rather expensive loan (relatively speaking) to build 3 elementary schools in a shorter time frame than otherwise would have been possible.


motherinduluth 1 year, 11 months ago

If you want taxpayers to look at the "big picture", don't pick and choose. I believe the purchase order documents over $2000, which are publicly available, give an indication that many additional millions of taxpayer money was spent on renovations, "decorating", furnishing, and equipping the ISC during that time period. Also, should not the additional salaries and benefits for the other non-teaching ISC staff be considered in the cost? Also, as for the 3 elementary schools, what about funds from ESPLOST II and the 2006 increase in taxes (I believe there was a 2005 finding that GCPS had overtaxed because of "miscalculations"). It seems clear that GCPS knows that taxpayers, for the most part, willingly pay for education of their communities children. We pay in money, time, promotion, etc. But when we see our money spent on chamber salaries, coaches that make more than other teachers, self-"investigation", personal offices, etc. should we not expect proof of fiduciary duty from our elected representatives? My youngest just graduated from GCPS. In the last 15 years, I've seen the focus shift from the students and the local school to a completely unresponsive board that is based on cronyism. Class size increases, support staff decreases, and teacher furlough days all have meant less education for students. Look at the other central office buildings across the state and in true world class school districts across the country. We are at the top of the list for luxury accommodations for our superintendent (that are rather inaccessible to constituents that park at the bottom of the hill and walk up the staircases to the main desk) but not in educating our children. A little creative thinking would go a long way. How many billions of dollars could have been better spent?


RobFromNorcross 1 year, 11 months ago

Wonder how many office buildings increased from $17 million to $52 million in value in the last 8 years? Everyone knows what a boom time it has been...


notblind 1 year, 11 months ago

Bling for bureaucrats. Cha ching for the well connected county elites. All on the taxpayer dime. Win win for everybody !!! [ taxpayers being nobodies ].


Reason 1 year, 11 months ago

Where is the business case evaluation? Was it done? If so, was it publicly published, well before the purchase?


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