School officials looking for agent to handle Schultz sale

Saturday, July 26, 2003

While the controversy surrounding the sale of Louis J. Schultz School continues, the 89-year-old building will soon be on the market again.

Litigation over a contract between a Jefferson City developer and the Cape Girardeau School District has continued for over a year now, but district officials are now looking for a real estate agent to put the building back on the market.

"It won't impact the litigation that's in progress," said superintendent Mark Bowles. "We do have a contract on the property, but it's obvious that Ray Bax is not interested in following up on that contract. There's nothing that would prevent us from getting a backup contract."

Ray Bax of RMB Inc.'s Bax Construction offered to buy the brick school in January 2002 for $2 million. His initial plan was to renovate the building for office space the state was seeking bids on to house three state departments in downtown Cape Girardeau.

Bax lost the bid to a proposal by Prost Builders of Jefferson City to renovate the 73-year-old Marquette Hotel on Broadway, and then attempted to withdraw his contract with the school district.

Bax could not be reached Friday for comment.

The school district is suing for the $2 million promised in the original contract, as well as damages for attorney's fees and the interest that would have accrued if the $2 million had been in the district's bank account during the past 12 months.

After several court appearances and a change of venue, the case is set for a bench trial Aug. 13 in Perry County. Bowles said if Bax isn't held accountable, the school district wants to have other potential buyers lined up following the conclusion of the litigation.

The district can't spend the money made from the sale of Schultz. The original deed to the building stated that it must always be used for educational purposes, Bowles said, which means the money from the sale must go into a trust fund. The district can, however, spend the interest gained from the trust fund and will not have the cost of maintaining a vacant building.

cclark@semissourian.com

335-6611, extension 128

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