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School board to sell Ridgeview Road property in closed bid process

Mount Horeb Mail
Thursday, July 31, 2008
By michele kraft

After listing the property in area newspapers for a month, the Mount Horeb Area School District hopes to sell the building and land at 8900 Ridgeview Road this summer.   

“Last August, at our annual meeting, we asked for and got permission from the public to sell the old bus barn and Ridgeview,” said Jeff Hanna, School Board Clerk and Buildings, Grounds, Insurance and Transportation Committee Chair. “If we were to keep Ridgeview as an operating school, we’d put more money into it than what it’s assessed at. It’s currently assessed at just short of $400,000 and the last numbers we had were well over a million dollars to get it upgraded, to keep it a school.”

Hearts and Hands Children’s Center has been renting the property for nearly four years and have been asking to purchase the property from the district for the last two years. While they are not the only party interested in purchasing, they are one of the front-runners in the bidding process.

School Board Superintendent Dr. Wayne Anderson said that, for a long time, the board has not been interested in selling. They did not know what their use for that building and the land might be in the future. With the cost of renovations to the building exceeding the assessed value, the property’s location outside of town sewer and water services and the availability of parties interested in purchasing it, Anderson said the board decided that now was the time to act.
“We have had offers from Hearts and Hands to purchase the building at an amount that greatly exceeds the assessed value,” Anderson said. “The board would not sell the property for the assessed value; it’s worth far more to us than that.”

Anderson stated that the property does not fit into any of the projected school district plans for the next 20 years. Selling Ridgeview and the former bus garage would generate income and return the properties to the tax rolls.

“When the district sells anything that belongs to it, we want to get the most money for it. We’re looking at our cash return.” Anderson said. “The same thing is true with Ridgeview and the bus garage. An individual I showed the bus garage to asked if the board would take into consideration what it’s used for. They’re not going to discount it $50,000 or a $100.000 because you’re going to use it for [a specific] activity. What we’re looking for is what is the greatest investment return that we can get.” 

The district is not working with a realtor on the project to save on fees.
“If you take a realtor’s portion of what the sale is, especially a commercial property, the board would have to ask for a lot more money to get the same amount of money that it’s going to get without the realtor,” Anderson said. “It didn’t make sense to do that to get to the same place we’re already at.”

In a 51-page report of the appraisal conducted of the site for the School Board by J.C. Ferrill Company, three different methods were used to ascertain a value: Cost Approach, Sales Comparison Approach and Income Approach. Each of these estimates, taken together, concluded that the property’s value was $300,000, or $100,000 less than the assessed value. The appraisal was conducted in November of 2003.

Realtors typically use the Sales Comparison Approach when setting a price for properties listed with the Multiple Listing Service or MLS, though other factors may be involved.

“To sell something like that in 30 days, that’s a fire sale.” said Don Bender, of Bender and Associates Realty in Mount Horeb. “That’s not trying to get the most out of that property. It should be marketed correctly and given six months to a year to get the job done.”

Bender said he recalled a variety of businesses have looked at the property and a number of them had not been allowed because of Village Comprehensive Plan land use issues. A commercial real estate agent could analyze the land use plan to determine the best businesses for that property and pursue them.

“Otherwise, I’m afraid we’re leaving a lot of money on the table,” Bender said. “I’m not the guy for the job; it would be in the best interests for everybody if the School Board would go out and get somebody who’s not in the school district to market that property. Then there’s no question that it was done correctly, that there’s no insider deal going on.”

Though transactions conducted by realtors typically return a six percent commission to agents involved in the sale of a property, Bender stated that real estate commissions are a negotiable part of the contract.

The decision to accept a bid and sell the property or to wait for a better offer will be made at the first school board meeting in July, scheduled for Monday, July 7.

“We can take all bids, review them, and accept one or reject them all,” Hanna said.

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