Hilliard Northwest News

Help All Kids Play deal falls through

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Help All Kids Play has terminated a pending purchase agreement with Hilliard City Schools for 100 acres.

Superintendent John Marschhausen announced the deal's termination at the June 9 school board meeting at Bradley High School.

"(The land) is back on the open market," Marschhausen said.

A farmer will continue to cultivate the property according to a previous agreement with the district, Marschhausen said.

Pat Shivley, founder and managing director of the Help All Kids Play Foundation, notified the district in a May 9 letter of the decision to withdraw the purchase offer, citing a lack of necessary financing to make the deal possible, Treasurer Brian Wilson said.

But Shivley said in the letter he would continue to work on financing and if he could obtain it, he wanted to revisit the opportunity to purchase the land.

He reiterated June 10 the deal is not necessarily dead.

"We're working on alternatives and haven't given up," Shivley said. "We have some partners who are very interested."

Shivley said he chose to terminate the contract so the district could receive alternative purchase offers.

"We left on amicable terms," said Shivley, who did not rule out the possibility of approaching the district again if financing were secured and if the parcel were still available.

Board member Heather Keck said she would support reconsidering the offer if Shivley were to obtain financing.

"I should think we would consider any offer that's fully financed," Keck said June 10.

Board member Paul Lambert concurred.

"I'd consider (Help All Kids Play) again. Why not? We should consider any deal where the buyer has financing," Lambert said.

Amanda Morris, a spokeswoman for Hilliard City Schools, said district officials were made aware late May 9 in an email from Shivley that he was terminating the contract.

The school board was scheduled to meet the following Monday, May 12 -- its last scheduled meeting until this week -- but, Morris said, the agenda for the May 12 meeting had already been prepared. Because the new information did not require board action, Morris said, the administration opted not to deviate from the published agenda.

"But we didn't want the board to be caught off guard," she said, so the public announcement of the contract termination was moved to the next regularly scheduled board meeting June 9.

Assistant Superintendent Tim Hamilton sent an email with a copy of Shivley's letter to all five board members May 13, Keck said.

The failure of the deal is the latest in a series of attempts by the district to sell 124 acres on the west side of Leppert Road and north of Scioto Darby Road that once were intended as the site for a third high school.

The land was purchased in 2003 from the Grener family for $50,000 per acre, a cost of about $6.2 million, but after voters rejected a pair of bond issues, district officials purchased land on Walker Road for Bradley High School, which opened in 2009.

A proposed deal last year with Help All Kids Play fell through when the organization offered $50,000 per acre but required financing, which the district could not lawfully provide, district officials said.

Instead, the district accepted an offer of $40,000 per acre from residential developer Rockford Homes.

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 needed infrastructure, so it withdrew its offer per a contingency in the deal.

That opened the door again for Shivley and Help All Kids Play, a nonprofit organization that helps economically disadvantaged children participate in organized sports.

Hilliard school board members on Jan. 13 accepted an offer of $35,000 per acre for 100 of the 124 acres. The deal required Shivley to lay out the $3.5 million price at closing 90 days later, and it represented a loss of about $15,000 per acre from the original purchase price in 2003.

Help All Kids Play would have leased the remaining 24 acres from the school district for $1 per year, according to the agreement.

On April 14, board members approved a 30-day extension for the closing cash, giving Help All Kids Play and Shivley until May 14 to close the deal.

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