Tough real estate market hinders future charter schools



Charter school builders face what builders and homebuyers already know – the market is limited and building materials off-charts are expensive.

Case in point: After attempting and unsuccessfully leasing 15 different properties, the new Utah School of Mines has finally secured the building that once housed Capstone Academy, which closed in December 2020.

But for so long without property to show to future students, the school was unable to recruit enough children to pay off, and was forced to completely abandon its plans.

MORE: Utah charter schools are at a crossroads

“Prices have gone crazy,” says Travis Yates, who works in real estate for Colliers International and occasionally advises charter school operators. “As all these land and construction prices rise, these costs are passed on to the tenant.”

Kim Frank of the Utah Charter Network says the development of future charter schools is likely to stall as a result.

Several schools that wanted to build extensions are redrawing the blueprints, taking into account the inflated cost. One such charter school, Providence Hall, wanted to add 13 new classrooms, but Principal Nate Marshall says they are considering scaling back the expansion.

Yates believes tough market conditions are opening up new opportunities.

“I think we will see charter schools become even more choosy and creative in what they can use as a school,” he said.

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