The Montgomery County Intermediate Unit (MCIU), which provides special education and other support services to schools around the county, has begun negotiating for the purchase of the former Citizens Bank building at 2 West Lafayette Street in Norristown. Citizens Bank moved out of the building earlier this year.
If the purchase goes through, the building would replace the MCIU's current facility on Ridge Pike in West Norriton as the agency's headquarters.
Problems at existing facility
The MCIU determined last fall that obtaining and outfitting a new property would be less expensive than making about $14 million in necessary repairs and upgrades to its existing offices. An aging HVAC system, numerous roof leaks, and the need to make the building ADA-compliant were among the items that the MCIU's facilities committee said would need to be addressed for the agency to remain at its current location.
Last October, Upper Moreland School Board president David Hakes, who serves on the MCIU facilities committee, said that those repairs would not solve all the problems with the West Norriton location.
"Even if we make those improvements, we still have issues with this building. There's not enough parking, it's not a convenient location, there's not enough space to provide services. We could provide a lot more services if we had better organized space than what exists in this building," Hakes said.
More than 30 sites evaluated
The MCIU said the 21-year old, five-story building has 102,100 square feet and 424 parking spaces.
“The site on Lafayette Street that we are now considering meets the specifications we have identified as priorities, including a central location, adequate space to accommodate our programmatic needs, and substantial parking,” said Dr. Jerry W. Shiveley, MCIU Executive Director and CEO, in a statement released to the media.
The MCIU said it anticipates creating a funding plan that will have "no additional impact" on the school districts that contribute to its funding. The MCIU said it planned to finance the purchase over 25 years through bond issue proceeds, capital reserve funds, and divisional support.
“Acquiring a more adequate facility will help the MCIU actualize its mission to serve the needs of our school districts and nonpublic schools,” Shiveley said.
The MCIU said its administration and facilities committees evaluated more than 30 sites before recommending the pursuit of 2 West Lafayette Street.