Norton Elementary, 1356 Harrison St., drew one bid in a recent school sale that ended Wednesday. A slain Portage womans body was found in the school last year. (Carole Carlson / Post-Tribune)

Gary school officials said Friday they received offers on all 24 vacant schools and properties advertised in a sale that ended March 4.

Among the bids, G.M. Howard Financial, of Gary, offered $1.8 million for the Wirt-Emerson Visual and Performing Arts school. Howard said it would be used for a small business incubator. He couldnt be reached for comment.

In all, the district received 73 offers with uses including residential development, education and training, urban farming, manufacturing, storage, and church.

Additionally, Gary developer Calvin Bankhead made offers on 23 properties for residential development.

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First Metropolitan Builders, of Gary, owned by Allan Fefferman, made offers on nine properties.

He placed a $9,000 bid for Nobel Elementary, in the citys Miller section.

In 2018, the district rejected Feffermans previous $75,000 bid after residents opposed the sale during a forum.

The district, managed by MGT Consulting under a state contract, first offered a school sale in 2018. The district accepted offers for Franklin, Carver, Jefferson, Ernie Pyle schools, and the former central office building.

The latest sale came after a slain Portage womans body was found in vacant Norton Elementary, 1356 Harrison St., last November.

Calling them lairs of crime, Mayor Jerome Prince issued nine school building code citations on his third day in office.

Standing outside dilapidated Edison school, Prince criticized the financially-struggling district for failing to demolish or maintain the vacant buildings.

The city made $1 offers, plus the cost of demolition, on Aetna, Brunswick, Nobel, Edison, Wirt-Emerson, and the Deep River Educational Center.

Edison and Wirt-Emerson drew the most bids with six each.

The Lake County Parks Department and the Little Calumet River Basin Commission offered $350,000 for the Deep River Educational Center, 3300 Liverpool Road. That property also drew a $391,000 bid from Solid Rock Church, which stated it would hold religious classes and agricultural training at the site.

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No public hearing on these bids is planned, said district spokeswoman Chelsea Whittington. Public comment is being accepted on the offers until March 19. They can be sent , or via social media, according to a press release.

The district said successful bidders will be notified March 25 and an attorney will finalize offers to purchase, accept earnest money and schedule a closing date.

Carole Carlson is a freelance reporter for the Post-Tribune.