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Friday, August 25, 2017 1:00 am

Quarry plans to raze Elmhurst building

Will set up time for alumni to visit

ASHLEY SLOBODA | The Journal Gazette

Fort Wayne Community Schools' shuttered Elmhurst High School now belongs to a company that plans to demolish the building, which is in such disrepair that repurposing it wouldn't be economically practical, an official said Thursday.

Hanson Aggregates Midwest LLC announced its acquisition of the Sandpoint Road property 10 days after the school board approved the $600,000 sale that comprised two parcels, the school site and adjacent farmland totaling almost 28 acres.

FWCS also received an offer from Bunn Real Estate for $250,000, the district said Thursday. 

Hanson, which began operating at Ardmore Quarry in 1929 just south of the school, viewed the Elmhurst property as a “strategic opportunity to secure future limestone reserves” and extend its longevity as an employer, quarry plant manager Brett Pepple said.

The facility has 40 on-site employees, he said.

Hanson has mined sand, gravel and limestone that have been used in various construction applications –including roads, bridges, homes and office buildings – at the quarry for 88 years, he said. Fort Wayne International Airport, Harrison Square and Parkview Field are among the projects that have been built with its products.

Questions about the company's interest in Elmhurst began when the school closed at the end of the 2009-10 academic year, Pepple said. Initially, he said, its interest was minimal.

“The school was never part of our long-term mining program,” he said. “We never planned on the school ever closing.”

In fact, he said, the company, part of Texas-based Lehigh Hanson Inc., was more interested in the adjacent 12-acre farmland because that can be mined. He doesn't foresee mining the school site because of its proximity to roads and residences.

Repurposing Elmhurst doesn't make financial sense, he said, because it would have to be completely gutted and renovated. Hanson will raze the building and return the site to its natural elevation, he said.

A timeline for demolition hasn't been established, but he expects it will happen in the “near future.”

Hanson understands and appreciates the memories and sentiments attached to the school, he said, and it plans to work with alumni and area residents to coordinate access and a walk-through of the building before it is razed.

“We're looking forward to hopefully allowing the alumni to get some closure on the school,” Pepple said.

Hanson plans to install a memorial in honor of Elmhurst near the intersection of Ardmore Avenue and Sandpoint Road, he said. Items that can be salvaged from the former school – if any exist – might be incorporated in the memorial, he said, noting the building is vacant and its walls are bare.

At last week's school board meeting, board President Julie Hollingsworth described the sale as bittersweet but inevitable.

“You knew eventually it was going to be sold, even for $1,” the former Elmhurst teacher said then.