BY ETHAN FORMAN
---- — MIDDLETON — When the budget for the $135 million Essex Technical High School was crafted, it hinged on the sale of North Shore Technical High’s property on Log Bridge Road.
It appears that the school has found a buyer. A Middleton real estate development company has indicated that it is willing to pay more than $4.7 million for the school property, though the deal is still in the due-diligence phase of a purchase and sale agreement, officials said.
The sale of the school building was a key provision of the merger that led to the Essex Tech construction project, as it will offset some of the cost for the 17 cities and towns that send students to the school, said Danvers Town Manager Wayne Marquis, who sits on the project’s building committee.
“That money will be used to reduce the share of the debt that will be paid by the communities,” Marquis said.
The sale of the school was a condition of a “significant” $77.5 million grant from the Massachusetts School Building Authority, a major source of funding for the project, Marquis said.
When the 1,440-student school opens in September, Essex Tech will merge the now state-owned Essex Agricultural and Technical High in Danvers, Peabody’s high-school vocational programs and North Shore Tech. The school is being constructed on Essex Aggie’s campus along Route 62. North Shore Tech’s campus will no longer be needed when the new school opens.
Along with the MSBA grant, Essex Aggie’s share of the new school project was paid for with a $21.1 million grant from the state, the Division of Capital Asset Management and Maintenance.
That leaves sending districts footing $35.1 million for the project, less the proceeds of the sale of North Shore Tech, a former industrial building. Deed records show it was once the home of R&K Precision Machine Inc.
How much the sale ultimately nets for communities has yet to be determined.
The sale price is expected to be $4.725 million, said Superintendent Dan O’Connell. Net proceeds should be about $4.3 million after legal fees and the broker’s commission. The North Shore Regional Vocational School District School Committee voted to cap the broker’s commission at 4.5 percent, according to minutes of a Jan. 16 meeting.
The district has a purchase and sale agreement with a real estate development company called Mutual Realty LLC of Middleton. O’Connell said the due-diligence phase involves looking to see if there are any environmental concerns and making sure the title to the property is in order.
The district took its present location on Log Bridge Road by a “friendly” eminent domain in 1991, awarding the First Essex Savings Bank $2.8 million when the school moved from Beverly.
The machine shop was built around 1975, according to assessors’ records. The property, including the school building, gymnasium and 8.66 acres of land, is assessed at $17.4 million, town records show.
Mutual Realty LLC on Debush Avenue is run by partners Ralph DiGiorgio and Anthony Messina. They also run DiGiorgio and Messina Construction Co. and are part of the team that developed The Residences at Rowley Country Club.
“Mutual Realty LLC develops custom homes and leases and sells commercial space,” according to its website. The company developed Riverview Industrial Park at 3 Ajootian Way in Middleton.
A call and an email seeking comment on the sale were not returned by press time on Friday.
George Harvey, chairman of the vocational school district, said he is hoping the building can be sold just as the school moves out.
“If we can get this sale to happen just as we move into the new building, it will save money for taxpayers, too,” Harvey said, “because we won’t have to put money back into heating and maintaining the present facility.”
Staff writer Ethan Forman can be reached at 978-338-2673, by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at @DanverSalemNews.