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For Sale signs may soon pop up in front of empty Flint school buildings

The man hired by the Flint School Board to find buyers for closed school buildings is not optimistic he’ll be able to find buyers.

Last night, the Flint school district hired Cooper Commercial, a Genesee County commercial real estate company, to try to find buyers for more than two dozen old schools and other buildings.

The district has been closing schools for several years in response to rising budget deficits and falling enrollment.     The district’s student population has fallen from a peak of 40 thousand to about 8 thousand today.  Meanwhile, the district is still millions of dollars in the red.  And while the district has been closing schools, the district still has to spend a lot of money to maintain the empty buildings.

Leo Seide has been in commercial real estate for 25 years. And a long time ago, he was on the Flint School Board. Seide says as a school board member he opened several of the schools his company is now looking to sell.

“I just would hope that there’s somebody who would take a shot at an office facility," says Seide. 

Seide says if he finds a buyer for a school property, it will be the school board decision whether to sell. 

But that may be harder than it sounds.

Seide says the vandalized condition of many of the schools and their location in the hearts of neighborhoods will make them difficult to sell to commercial businesses.

He says the buildings may attract developers interested in using the old school buildings as apartments for senior citizens.   

Steve Carmody has been a reporter for Michigan Radio since 2005. Steve previously worked at public radio and television stations in Florida, Oklahoma and Kentucky, and also has extensive experience in commercial broadcasting.
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