GROTON — The Tarbell School sits vacant at 73 Pepperell Road and it appears that trend will continue for the foreseeable future.
The 8,300-square-foot building is owned by the town, which issued a request for proposals in February with the hope a private developer would step forward to buy or lease the building and convert it into housing, offices or retail space. Instead, the requests deadline passed on March 25 without any bids received.
Having previously hoped that a long-term use for the historic building could be decided at this year’s spring Town Meeting, town manager Mark Haddad was disappointed with that outcome. He said town officials would like to see Tarbell back on the tax rolls.
“I was very excited about the potential of getting a bid and I am disappointed, but it’s a sign of the market, I guess,” he said.
Haddad was expecting at least one bid on Tarbell, saying the town had been in contact with a developer who toured it several times. However, he said that developer had another project fall into its lap over the past couple of weeks and it decided to move in a different direction.
The next step for Tarbell will be determined by the Board of Selectmen, but Haddad said his likely recommendation would be to issue another request for proposals later in the year, possibly in conjunction with a similar request for redevelopment of the Prescott School Building.
The Tarbell School was previously used as administrative officers for the Groton-Dunstable Regional School District, but was vacated when the Prescott School became available a couple of years ago. Subsequent feedback from the West Groton neighborhood suggested that area residents wanted to see the building and its playground preserved, but no new tenant has emerged.
Selectman Fran Dillon reported hearing that two or three developers took out the proposal paperwork and was curious what impacted their decision to pass. He said the town may also want to talk with local real estate people to get their ideas on the situation.
In related news, the selectmen are having trouble finding enough candidates to fill an advisory committee to study reuse options for the Prescott School, which is also owned by the town and is considered underutilized in its current role as administrative offices and overflow space for Groton-Dunstable.
The selectmen resolved to create the Prescott advisory group in February, after a request for proposals to convert the building into housing or office space came under fire from neighbors and local officials.
The seven-person group is slated to include three at-large residents, a business owner, a selectman, Planning Board member and school district representative. Haddad said the deadline for applicants to step forward was in late March, adding he’d raise the issue at the next Board of Selectmen meeting.