high school
Cochise County Seeks Developer To Renovate 1914 School Property In Bisbee Historic District

December 29, 2021

By Terri Jo Neff |

Cochise County officials are hoping someone with experience in the repurposing of historic properties will want to purchase, renovate, and redevelop the former Bisbee High School, whose exterior dates to 1914 and most of its interior to 1920.

The three-story, four-level school designed by architect Norman Foote Marsh is part of three parcels encompassing about 1.4 acres within the City of Bisbee. The property sits within the Bisbee Historic District, which is itself included on the National Register of Historic Places.

A recently announced request for proposals (RFP) notes Cochise County intends to sell the property “to a developer for subsequent conversion from governmental office use to multi-unit residential, which may also incorporate some retail and office use.” The city council recently approved the county’s rezoning request to Commercial Mixed Use (CM-2).

According to county officials, the ideal developer would have knowledge and experience in property redevelopment, adaptive reuse of historic properties, and historic preservation. Any conveyance by the county would likely include a permanent easement to preserve and protect the building’s exterior.

“The County also expects to enter into a mutually acceptable land development agreement with the successful proposer that will govern the subsequent rehabilitation of the building and the redevelopment of the property,” the RFP states.

Despite the complexities that can come with repurposing the building, there is an interesting peculiarity to Marsh’s three-story, four-level design for the school: as a result of being built on a hillside, all of the building’s levels to have a street-level entrance, a fact attested to by Ripley’s Believe-It-or-Not.

Interested developers can access additional information about the Bisbee High School property at https://cochise.bonfirehub.com/opportunities/57452

Meanwhile, another historic high school is for sale in Cochise County – the Tombstone Union High School built in 1922 along what is now State Route 80.

For the last 15 years, myriad realtors have tried to find a buyer for the two-story high school which has sat empty since 2006. The 4.5-acre property includes a separate gymnasium and science building, all of which are located near the Tombstone Historic District and historic Allen Street.

Anyone interested in more information about the sale of Tombstone HS can call Superintendent Robert Devere at 520-457-2217.

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