Hilliard Northwest News

Sale of 124 acres

District strikes $3.5M deal with nonprofit

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More than 10 years after purchasing 124 acres as the intended site for a third high school, Hilliard school board members are poised to sell most of the parcel at a loss of $15,000 per acre.

But district officials said the sale includes a deed restriction that prohibits residential construction of any kind, and the entire $3.5 million cash payment for the land will be due at closing within 90 days.

Board members on Jan. 13 were unanimous in their decision to sell 100 acres of the parcel at $35,000 per acre to the Help All Kids Play Foundation, a nonprofit organization that helps economically disadvantaged children participate in organized sports.

The remaining 24 acres will be leased to Help All Kids Play Foundation for $1 per year, according to the agreement, and must be used solely for recreation.

A deposit of $10,000 also is required within three days of the board's approval of the purchase agreement.

"It's a win-win for our schools," board President Andy Teater said during brief comments preceding the vote. "We get soccer fields for our kids and we will not see an increase in enrollment."

No one else spoke about the transaction before or after the vote.

ThisWeek could not reach Pat Shivley, founder and managing director of Help All Kids Play, for comment.

The deal places the land in the hands of the same nonprofit organization the district failed to reach a purchase agreement with last year.

The difference this time was money, district officials said.

Treasurer Brian Wilson said the ability of Help All Kids Play Foundation to bring cash to the table this time made the deal viable.

"It was a cash deal where as the other proposal entailed financing," Wilson said.

The original deal with Help All Kids Play Foundation fell through when the nonprofit organization could not obtain financing.

District officials said it was unlawful to enter into a financing agreement, even though Help All Kids Play was offering to match the district's original purchase price of $50,000 per acre.

The district bought the 124 acres on the west side of Leppert Road and north of Scioto Darby Road from the Grener family in 2003 for $50,000 per acre -- a cost of about $6.2 million.

After the failure of two bond issues to build a third high school there, district officials decided to purchase land on Walker Road, where Bradley High School opened in 2009.

After the initial offer from Help All Kids Play was not accepted last year, district officials accepted an offer from Rockford Homes to purchase the 124 acres for $40,000 per acre.

District officials said the offer was better than Help All Kids Play because Rockford Homes would pay cash up-front for the transaction. The decision to sell to a residential developer still drew public criticism.

However, Rockford Homes was unable to obtain the necessary housing density to offset the cost of providing sanitary sewer service to the parcel and other necessary infrastructure, so it withdrew its offer per a contingency in the deal.

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