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Bidding War Over Closed Hazelwood School Sparks Controversy

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) -- Since its closing 14 years ago, Gladstone Middle School in Hazelwood has sat vacant garnering little interest.

But now it's a hotly contested property pitting a coalition of community groups against a little-known biotech firm called Gaugamela Holdings, which has offered to buy it for $1.5 million.

"We haven't seen any evidence, documented evidence, that the can do what they claim nor a track record that they've ever done it," said Rev. Tim Smith.

Rev. Smith is the founder the Center of Life, one of half dozen community groups who have offered the Pittsburgh School Board the asking price of $250,000.

The groups want the school for offices, a community center and low and moderate cost housing.

"We've put together a responsible partnership that has the capacity to do this work up here," Rev. Smith says.

But Gaugamela is something of mystery.

KDKA found no record of a business history, and no one at an office bearing its name in Uptown. All we found was empty office and some sort of laboratory space.

In addition to that space, Gaugamela does have a website promising a proposal for Gladstone School, but only coming soon.

KDKA's Andy Sheehan did manage to get a phone number for its president, Francis Pitt, who said he couldn't meet, but said he wants the school as a research center, greenhouse and technology incubator.

Sheehan: "Why should the board pick you over the community group?"

Pitt: "Because we have the better proposal. It's sustainable, and it's better for the community because it will provide jobs."

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