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New District Office

SIMI VALLEY UNIFIED SELLS CURRENT OFFICE; PURCHASES NEW HOME

 

JUNE 13, 2017-SIMI VALLEY, CA: The Simi Valley Unified School District has entered into contracts to sell the three property parcels that make up the current Educational Services Center on Cochran Street, and has entered into a purchase agreement to buy a new building about a mile away.

It’s a move that will consolidate almost all of the district’s operations under one roof, with a building that is newer and better suited for the district’s needs, and at a cost that is equal to the proceeds from the sale of the current location and other surplus property.

“We are incredibly excited about the potential in this property,” said Dr. Jason Peplinski, SVUSD Superintendent. “Our staff and the community have waited a long time for a facility that better reflects our professionalism and modern esthetic. With this move, we’ll be able to bring almost our entire district staff family under the same roof and operate more efficiently, safely and comfortably.”

Located at 101 West Cochran Street, west of Madera Road, the $13.5 million building will be paid for from the proceeds of the sale of the district’s current home at 875 East Cochran, the Wood Ranch Conference Center and surplus property funds. Earlier this year, the district’s current property was subdivided into three parcels, including the main building in the front, the warehouse and truck park in the middle, and the vacant land in the back of the property. Sold to three different buyers, the combined sales price of the three parcels is $10.2 million. The Wood Ranch property sold last year for $3 million. Any remaining costs will come from existing surplus property funds.

The new center sits on about 7 acres of land. The main building was built in 1981 and was expanded and renovated in 2000. It totals 120,075 square-feet and has a warehouse and loading bays of comparable size to the current facility, many offices, conference rooms, sound studios (it’s been rented out over the years to entertainment industry interests) and plenty of parking for employees.

“This building will better serve our community,” Dr. Peplinski said. “We have plans to bring the community into this building for different events and public meetings. Our current building is not user-friendly. It’s badly in need of repairs.”

The district’s current home was built in 1970 and has about 60,000 square feet. When it was built, Cochran Street was open to street parking. After the city changed that, the district office had to reorient the main door to the back of the building, eliminating the reception area. When Measure C4 was passed in 2004, it allowed for the renovation of the district office, but when construction costs started to rise and affect the district’s ability to complete campus repairs and upgrades, the district decided to reallocate the money for the district office to complete needed campus projects. Since then, only essential maintenance has been done to the building to keep it functional for staff.

“We designed the building to the needs of that day,” said Pedro Avila, Director of Facilities. “But four decades have gone by and we haven’t had a major renovation to serve our current needs. Now we’re just trying to make things work.”

About 120 employees work at the district office, which was filled to capacity years ago. Portables offices have been used for many years to house employees. In recent years, the district walled off the main entrance along Cochran Street to create more offices for employees. The aging building is in great need of a costly renovation for both operational and safety purposes. The building is not compliant with current Americans with Disability Act building codes. The heating and air-conditioning systems in part of the building need to be replaced.

District leaders did explore the possibility of constructing a new building for its purposes, but the cost was nearly the same as purchasing the new building. Since construction would have happened on the existing district property, the district would have lost out on the proceeds from selling that property, which is now being used for the new purchase.

“There’s something that makes much more sense about reclaiming one of Simi Valley’s many large existing buildings and bringing new purpose to it,” Dr. Peplinski said. “This building is nearly perfect for our needs, and is basically move-in ready.”

Ron Todo, Associate Superintendent of Business & Facilities, said the district would likely be moved into the new building by the end of the year, if all goes as scheduled.