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West End School Sold To LB Theater Company For $2.25 Million

LONG BRANCH: New Jersey Repertory Company (NJ Rep), a professional, non-profit theater located at 179 Broadway, has purchased the West End School from the Long Branch School District.

Long Branch School District Superintendent Michael Salvatore said the Long Branch Board of Education recently voted in favor of accepting a bid for the purchase of the school, located at 132 West End Ave.

Salvatore said the school sale price is $2.25 million and that the funds will be designated for tax relief and the reconstruction of the old Long Branch High School. Officials hope to use the old high school to house the district's alternative education program for 124 students with behavioral problems and learning disabilities. The district is currently holding its alternative education program at the Audrey W. Clark School after moving from rented space at Holy Trinity.

Salvatore said the sale of the school could create a strong partnership between NJ Rep and the school district.

"We feel the intentions of the buyer are extremely beneficial to the West End community and we hope to encourage partnerships with the group for our Visual and Performing Arts students," Salvatore said in an email to Word On The Shore.

He said that several contingencies exist with the proposal, which include zoning authorization and site examination, but that he feels the plan will move forward soon.

"We are confident this plan will satisfy the various authorities and become a reality within the near future," he said. "If all contingencies are met, we could be looking to exchange keys before the summer season."

The sale of the West End School fell apart earlier this year when Menachem Learning Institute, also known as Chabad of the Shore, and the district was told Chabad's lending institution disagreed with the property assessment. Chabad of the Shore's appraisal of the property was lower than the $3.3 million it had agreed to purchase the school for in January, officials said.

Later, the district unsuccessfully attempted to sell the school in mid-2014 after it received no bids. The district had contemplated putting the school out for auction as it did for the Church Street School, but ultimately decided to try the bidding process once again.

NJ Rep's exact plans for the school, but Word On The Shore hopes to speak to the theater's founder, Gabe Barabas, soon to get more information.

Read more from: Long Branch

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