Westerville News & Public Opinion

District unloads Walnut Street properties

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The Westerville City School District will sell two houses it has owned and rented out for years.

The Board of Education voted unanimously Jan. 13 to sell the properties at 135 and 145 E. Walnut St. to a single buyer, Jeff Klima, for $220,000.

The property at 135 E. Walnut St., known as the Davis-Fullerton House, is a 1.4-acre lot with a 2,534-square-foot house.

The house once was home to Hugh Fullerton, the Cincinnati sports writer who uncovered the "Black Sox" scandal, in which the Chicago White Sox threw the 1919 World Series game for a payoff.

It also was the home of Lazarus book buyer Lulu Teeter, and visitors included authors Carl Sandburg, Henrietta Buckmaster and Frank Seidel.

The district has owned the property since 1986 but did not use it until 2005, when $280,000 was spent to convert it into office space.

The house has been leased to a private company for office use since February 2012.

The property is valued at $320,000 by the Franklin County Auditor.

The property at 145 E. Walnut St. is a 0.7-acre lot with a 1,368-square-foot house built in 1956. The property was purchased by the district in 1987 but it has never used the building for district purposes. It long has been rented out as a home.

The property is valued by the Franklin County Auditor at $134,300.

The district tried to auction the houses in November, but the minimum bids were not met. The minimum bid for 135 E. Walnut St. was set at $161,000, and the minimum bid for 145 E. Walnut St. was set at $112,000.

District leaders said the sale of the properties got the district out of a role it should not have been playing: Landlord.

The properties were purchased at a time the district needed additional land for the adjoining transportation garage and, potentially, additional office space, said board President Nancy Nestor-Baker.

"We needed that property desperately -- not for the houses, for the land. We have gotten our money's worth out of those purchases," Nestor-Baker said. "We don't need that space anymore."

Superintendent John Kellogg said Klima plans to maintain the properties as rentals.

"I don't foresee it being bulldozed," he said of the Davis-Fullerton house. "Turning over the maintenance to someone who has a business interest in it ... seems to be the most logical thing to do at this time."

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