Tuesday, February 23, 2021

Sale closed for Alturas International Academy to renovate old Sears space at Grand Teton Mall

Alturas Executive Director Michelle Ball, second from left, and three board members,  Christine Ogden, Callie Hatch and Anna Long, review plans for the remodel in the old Sears space. (Alturas International Academy photo)

Grand Teton Mall will have a new tenant this fall in the anchor space formerly occupied by Sears, but it will not be retail. TOK Commercial announced Tuesday that its brokerage team has successfully closed the sale with Building Hope, a non-profit organization that assists charter schools in the financing, procurement and renovation of educational facilities.

Building Hope plans to convert the 70,000 square feet to the new Alturas Preparatory Academy, a secondary school planned to open in Fall 2021. The space will undergo extensive renovations and will feature 30 classrooms, common areas, and flexible, naturally-lit collaborative spaces.

Brian Wilson, TOK Commercial’s lead agent on the transaction, assisted Building Hope with site selection, contract negotiations, and the eventual purchase. “It was such an honor to work with Building Hope as they bring additional educational opportunities to our community through an innovative repositioning of this high profile real estate asset,” he said.

Alturas first announced its plans for the space last August in an email reporting it had received approval from the Idaho Public Charter School Commission for a school to serve students in grades six through 12. The school had been awarded a grant from the J.A. and Kathryn Albertson Family Foundation to help fund the purchase and renovation of former Sears space.

Plan are for 30 classrooms, science labs, common areas, an art room, drama room, music room, gym, wide hallways and abundant natural light, according to a press release. Rooms will be set up to open into larger collaborative spaces. Overall, the cost of the remodel has been estimated at $6 million to $7 million, Alturas Executive Director Michelle Ball said.

They expect the first year of Alturas Preparatory Academy to have roughly 260 students. Each year they plan to add a new sixth-grade class until they reach their capacity at the high school, which will be 96 seats available per grade level.

Alturas International Academy Principal Brian Bingham said students who attend the high school can earn 30 college credits, plus they will seek authorization as an International Baccalaureate (IB) World School. The IB high school curriculum focuses on critical thinking and community and global stewardship, and it contains two tracks — a rigorous diploma program and a more traditional career-oriented program. Alturas International is currently the only authorized International Baccalaureate World School in eastern Idaho, a school news release said.

“That opportunity to obtain the diploma program and stand out on their college applications and receive a strong education will provide an opportunity for them to be successful at the university level,” Bingham said.

Enrollment will be determined by a lottery system, with priority given to current Alturas International students and their siblings.