Hilliard Northwest News

Hilliard school board sells land to homebuilder

124 acres purchased for $5 million

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Hilliard school board members last week unanimously approved the sale of 124.3 acres between Cosgray and Leppert roads to Schottenstein Homes for almost $5 million.

The board agreed to sell the land for $40,000 per acre, $10,000 less per acre than the district paid for the land in 2003.

The decision at the board's July 9 meeting followed a one-hour closed-door executive session to discuss the offer. The vote was rendered with no further public discussion.

After the meeting adjourned, board President Andy Teater said the sale provides the district with discretion in how the land would be developed once a proposal is presented by Schottenstein Homes.

"We will have a hand in approving a development plan for this site," Teater said.

That includes reserving the right to reject a plan before it goes to the Hilliard Planning and Zoning Commission.

The development plan is expected to include green space and soccer fields, Teater said, and would bring the additional athletics facilities the district and the city attempted to achieve during negotiations with Help All Kids Play, a nonprofit organization that twice attempted to purchase the land. Both efforts failed after Help All Kids Play could not obtain financing.

"It is our hope to get the soccer fields we've wanted on this site (and) we will have a say in how it is developed, so we think this is a good decision," Teater said.

He said he met with July 8 with Mayor Don Schonhardt and Economic-Development Director David Meeks to advise them of Schottenstein Homes' offer.

Schonhardt said July 9 the city supports the sale and looks forward to crafting an acceptable development plan.

"Having had a brief discussion with the purchaser, we are pleased to hear that a major portion of the site is to be set aside as green space (and) athletic fields, which is consistent with previous discussions regarding development on this site," Schonhardt said.

Paul Coppel, co-owner of Schottenstein Homes, said July 14 "it was too early in the process" to offer any details for a proposed development.

Coppel said company executives planned to meet with Hilliard city and school district officials "to find an acceptable land use plan for all the parties involved."

Assistant Superintendent Tim Hamilton said representatives of the homebuilder approached the district about two weeks ago and sought a meeting to present the company's offer.

"Having shown prior interest in the parcel, (Schottenstein Homes) was familiar with it," Hamilton said. "Their offer is what we brought to the board."

The contract approved by the school board outlines several requirements for developing the land.

Within 180 days, according to the contract, the buyer and seller agree to "cooperate in good faith to finalize the location and configuration of the recreation area."

Schottenstein Homes would be required to submit a land-use plan to the district within 120 days. The builder would work with the city and adjacent property owners to achieve "an acceptable land-use plan" and to provide sanitary-sewer service to the property, according to the terms of the contract.

About 31 acres will be designated for open space and recreational areas, according to the contract. The remainder of the 124 acres would be used for residential development.

The district reserves the right to reject the land-use plan and, if an agreement cannot be reached within 180 days, either party would have the right to terminate the contract.

The district purchased the 124 acres for $50,000 per acre in 2003 as a potential site for a third high school. After two failed bond issues, the district purchased 114 acres on Walker Road for $25,000 per acre and built Bradley High School, which opened in 2009.

The district has tried to sell the land four times.

Last year, Help All Kids Play offered to match the original $50,000-per-acre purchase price, but could not obtain the necessary financing. As that deal fell apart, the district entered into an agreement with Rockford Homes for $40,000 per acre.

Rockford Homes withdrew its offer after the company determined the density it likely would be permitted would not offset the cost of providing sanitary-sewer service and other required infrastructure.

Earlier this year, the district made another contingent purchase agreement with Help All Kids Play, but the nonprofit informed the district in May it was withdrawing the offer. The school board terminated the agreement June 10 and put the land back on the market.

If approved, the sale would result in a loss of $10,000 per acre, or about $1.2 million less than the original purchase price of $6.2 million.

The land is east of Cosgray Road and just west of where Davidson Road ends at Leppert Road.

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