Old Bisbee High School Redevelopment

The Building

Cochise County is currently reviewing proposals for the purchase, renovation, and redevelopment of the original Bisbee High School, located in the downtown historic district of Bisbee, Arizona. 

This 3-story, 45,000 square foot building was originally constructed in 1914. The main building sits on a 1.26-acre parcel. It was originally built to accommodate 450 students. The high school was listed in Ripley’s Believe-It-or-Not because all building levels have a street level entrance. The building is a significant contributing resource in the Bisbee Historic District, which was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1980. The building functioned as a regional high school until 1959, when a new, larger school was opened. Since that time, it has served as a county library and office space for county staff. 

Current Use
The building was vacated of all uses in December 2021. 

Potential Use
The City of Bisbee recently approved a rezoning of the property to from Residential (R-1) to Commercial Mixed Use (CM-2) in November of 2021. The change became effective on December 16, 2021. Within that category is a desirable range of potential allowable uses for redevelopment, including retail, professional office, assisted living, and multifamily residential. The conveyance of the property to the successful proposer may be subject to a permanent Historic Preservation Easement to protect the historic exterior of the building. 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.

An appraisal of the property was completed in November, 2021
2021 Property Appraisal (PDF)

In 2020, the County commissioned a Building Material Survey of the property.  The limited regulated building materials (RBM) survey included an asbestos-containing materials (ACMs), lead-based paint (LBP), and hazardous materials survey.
Regulated Building Material Survey Report (PDF)

Want to see a drone video of the building's exterior? Bisbee High School Drone Video (MP4) 

For More Information: 
Christine McLachlan, AICP

*Please note - the building was substantially renovated in 1996. Copies of these plans, which reflect the current floor plan of the building, can be viewed at the Cochise County Development Services office anytime during regular business hours. 

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Background Info

Address: 100 Clawson Avenue Bisbee, Arizona; APN 103-62-025
  • Includes two additional adjacent parcels, which total 0.18 acres and provide additional space for parking and site access.
  • Built 1914; rebuilt in 1920 following a fire that destroyed much of the interior of the structure
  • Architectural elements: four stories, flat roof. Decorative, cornice, corner entry, rounded corners on two sides L-shaped plan
  • Architect: Norman F. Marsh

Bisbee Facts

Bisbee is 5,538’ in elevation, making it 15 degrees cooler than Tucson or Phoenix on average
  • Best Places To Go (2018) Frommer’s
  • 25 Small Towns That Are About to Become More Popular (2021) Reader’s Digest
  • Best Historic Small Town in America (2016) USA Today

Neighborhood Outreach

On October 2., 2021, Cochise County staff hosted a neighborhood meeting in order to provide information and answer some questions about the future sale, renovation and redevelopment of Old Bisbee High School. The meeting was in an "open house" style format. Attendees were allowed to walk through the building. They were also encouraged to fill out comment cards indicating the types of future uses they would like to see. Information about the meeting was published in the Sierra Vista Herald in advance of the meeting date. A few days following the meeting, a follow-up article was published. 

Sierra Vista Herald Article, 9/26/21 (PDF)
Sierra Vista Herald Article, 10/7/21 (PDF)
Comment Card Results (PDF)

Other Resources

City of Bisbee Zoning Regulations (PDF)
City of Bisbee General Plan (PDF)
City of Bisbee Allowable Use by Zoning District Matrix (PDF)

Floor Plan Sketches*

First Floor Plan Sketch
second floor plan sketch
third floor plan sketch
Basement Bisbee High School

Location of Old Bisbee High

Location of project in Bisbee