Waiver may help Hart district sell properties

Throughout the past year, the William S. Hart Union High School District has been trying unsuccessfully to sell two of its properties in the center of town.

With the recent approval of a waiver that allows the district more freedom to negotiate with potential buyers, an official said the district could start making some progress toward selling the unneeded properties.

Several times this year the Hart district has put up for auction two properties — its former district office building across from Bowman High School on Centre Pointe Parkway and a nearby building on Spirit Court.

Each time, the district has been unable to strike a deal with a buyer.

The Hart district sought to sell its old district office for “not less than $3,850,000” and the Spirit Court property for “not less than $5,800,000” in the recent auction period.

At the Hart district’s board meeting last Wednesday, board President Steve Sturgeon said the district had not received a bid for either property.

“We’re following state guidelines,” he said in a follow-up interview. “The auction process is not something that we would have preferred, but is required by state law for public property.”

What the auction process means is that the district board sets a minimum price for the property. If no one bids to buy the property at that price, the district can elect to put the property up for auction again, perhaps at a reduced price.

Simply reducing the price again and again could send the wrong message to possible buyers, Sturgeon said.

“In my opinion, reducing the price with each auction would have simply sent a signal to potential buyers that they should just wait until the next auction and see if the price was going down,” he said.

Like any seller, the district is also looking to get the best price it can, he added.

“The district wants to maximize its returns on those props for the benefit of the taxpayers,” Sturgeon said.

To that end, the district has applied for and was this month granted a waiver from the state Board of Education that will allow it to move forward with selling the properties using a more standard real estate approach, Sturgeon said, giving the district more leeway to hammer out a deal with a prospective buyer, whenever one emerges.

“Now, we can put those properties on the market for a price and negotiate,” Sturgeon said.

The Hart district moved into its new administrative headquarters at 21380 Centre Pointe Parkway — just down the street from its old offices — in January.

Lmoney@signalscv.com

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On Twitter @LukeMMoney

Article source: http://www.signalscv.com/section/36/article/130178/

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