Albany County School District No. 1’s school board has agreed to lease out the old Staples building on the east side of Laramie to a company looking to open a new fitness facility.
The school district owns the building that also houses Snowy Range Academy and Dollar Tree.
After Staples vacated the eastern third of the building in 2016, ACSD No. 1 Business Manager Ed Goetz said the district has struggled to find a new tenant.
The new company taking over the property, AIRDE Ventures LLC, will pay only $3 per square foot for an annual cost of $48,333. The company will also pay $435 each month in costs for maintenance, property insurance and taxes.
“We’ve been in discussions for a number of months,” Goetz said. “It is a start-up business, so that’s why we’re looking at the $3 per square foot for two years. We would certainly be looking for an increase after those two years. I guess my view is that it’s better to get some rental funds than none at all.”
Dollar Tree currently pays $4.94 per square foot.
The district has owned the property since 2013, when the state paid $4 million to buy the building for Snowy Range Academy’s use. The charter school also serves as property manager of the entire building, and 16,111 square feet of the building will be leased to the new gym.
AIRDRE Ventures will control the property for two years, and the contract allows for the contract to be extended for three more years.
Board member Tammy Johnson said she worried the lease “could be perceived as the school district subsidizing a business that’s going to move in and compete with others.”
“I’m concerned about the perception that we have other fitness facilities in town that aren’t getting the benefit of the use of a publicly-owned facility,” Johnson said. “Those other companies have to compete on the market.”
Goetz, however, said that perception wouldn’t really be based in reality since there’s been almost no interest in the property.
“This property’s been vacant for a number of years. This is the first serious interest that we’ve had since Staples left,” Goetz said.
Goetz said the city of Laramie has also been involved in trying to lease the space out in the past couple years.