Bristol goes out for bid on downtown school buildings

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The Town of Bristol is soliciting purpose bids for its three downtown school buildings — Walley, Reynolds and Byfield.

The RFP, due by noon March 5, is a blank canvas; ideas for the buildings’ future use could be determined entirely by the bidder.

“What we’re looking for is a proposal for all three, but specifically the Walley school because that’s currently vacant,” said Town Administrator Tony Teixeira.

The town has been renting out rooms in the Reynolds and Byfield school buildings for the past two years to private businesses, such as artists, a yoga studio, textile sales, and medical instrument sales. The town generates $64,200 a year in revenue from the tenants at Byfield, and $71,040 from the tenants at Reynolds — specifically the English as a Second Language program, which pays $68,040 yearly for space.

“We want to make sure that the folks who are there can also put in (a bid) for it as well,” Mr. Teixeira said. “We don’t want to chase them away, that’s not our intent. We want to maximize the use and hopefully incorporate all the folks who are currently there.”

The RFP process started last December when the town was approached by a tenant with a purpose proposal for one of the buildings. The town couldn’t legally entertain the idea, unless it put out a RFP, opening up the opportunity for anyone interested.

“We are in the process of meeting with all the people in (Byfield) to put together a plan,” said Dawn Oliveira, owner of Oliveira Textiles, and a Byfield tenant. “We definitely want this to stay as an art and design building, but we want to put it together as a benefit to the town. We want to show that we are serious artists and want to stay here.”

Depending on the proposal, current tenants could package a RFP showing interest in the entire building or just rooms, Mr. Teixeira said.

A RFP for repurposing the Walley school went unanswered last year. A representative of the Colonial Theater based in Westerly had met with several town officials over the summer about converting the building into a performing arts hub.

However, nothing was ever submitted, Mr. Teixeira said.

Mr. Teixeira is currently gathering information about the town’s cost to operate each building, ensuring the town is “on target with whatever the offer may be.”

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