Texans Can Academy will relocate River Oaks campus to East Lancaster

04/15/2014 6:13 PM

04/15/2014 8:33 PM

Texans Can Academy, a Dallas-based charter school that caters to high school dropouts who want to return to school, is buying property on East Lancaster Avenue where it plans to move its River Oaks campus.

Malcolm Wentworth, Texans Can chief operating officer, said the location at 1316 E. Lancaster Ave., known for a music mural on the side of the building, will provide easier access for its students who use public transportation. In a deal scheduled to close today, the school is paying $1.2 million for the 2.1-acre property, which includes a 27,000-square-foot warehouse and two vacant lots, he said.

“Most importantly, it’s perfect for us because it’s on a bus line,” Wentworth said. “It’s getting harder and harder to get students to come to school,” he said of the River Oaks campus, at 5508 Black Oak Lane.

Enrollment at the school has been dropping, he said.

Wentworth said school officials have been looking for four years for a new Fort Worth site. They thought they had found one a year ago, when Texans Can Academy bought the former Manual Auto Group dealership at 2920 Alta Mere Drive in west Fort Worth.

Those plans were altered after zoning changes were made on the property by the city and the Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base, which created a safe zone in the area, Wentworth said. The school has that 3.7-acre site, which includes a 26,000-square-foot building, for sale, he said.

The East Lancaster school, to be across the street from the Union Gospel Mission and near the Presbyterian Night Shelter, will be completed in two phases, Wentworth said.

As soon as the city approves the plans, construction will begin on an 8,800-square-foot warehouse portion of the building for classrooms, administrative and staff offices, and restrooms. That work should be done in time for school to begin in August, Wentworth said.

The remainder of the space will be built out after Rhythm Band Instruments moves out, Wentworth said. The business still has six months remaining on its lease. That space will include a kitchen and cafeteria, science labs and additional classrooms and offices, he said.

The school will be able to accommodate about 350 students when completed. The River Oaks campus has about 230 students, he said.

Texans Can students attend classes four hours a day, either in the morning or afternoon, he said.

Texans Can Academy also operates a school at 4301 Campus Drive, at the corner of East Seminary and Campus drives. That campus serves 380 students.

Founded in 1986, Texans Can Academy also has campuses in Austin, Dallas, Houston and San Antonio. It operates an auto sales and auction lot at 1911 E. Division St. in Arlington, which funds its programming. The school is known for the slogan “Write off the car, not the kid.”

The Lancaster Avenue property is being sold by Flora Brewer, who recently sold the neighboring Parker-Browne Building at 1212 E. Lancaster Ave. The building was bought by the owners of a neighboring uniform company for expansion.

In the latest deal, Eliza Solender of Solendar Hall Commercial Real Estate Services in Dallas represented Texans Can Academy. Will Northern of Northern Realty Group in Fort Worth represented the seller.

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