Monday, May 12, 2008

Disposition of Property - Budget Savior?

Several years ago, the Hilliard Board of Education purchased 122 acres of farmland between Leppert and Consgray Rds for the purpose of building a third high school. This purchase was supported by officials of the City of Hilliard (including then Councilman Don Schonhardt), and the land was annexed into Hilliard in order to gain access to water/sewer service, as is required under the contract with the City of Columbus.

However, when it came time to pass a levy for the construction of the school, the community declined to do so multiple times. The public rhetoric was that placing a high school at this site would cause unbearable traffic problems in the area, since all three high schools would have been within a mile of each other. Newly elected Mayor Schonhardt agreed and said he had a solution - a hunk of land on Davis Rd. owned by developer Dan O'Brien (I have seen Mr. O'Brien's plat map with the school sited on it). That deal fell through, eventually leading to the purchase of the Emmelhainz property, where Bradley High School is now being erected.

That leaves the question of what to do with the 122 acres on Cosgray Rd?

When a school district has land to sell, it much first offer it at public auction. According to the agenda for tonight's school board meeting, that auction was held but the land did not sell - the reason was not disclosed. Subsequently, a private offer was received from "SC Interest, LLC" to buy 90 acres for $4.5 million, and tonight the Board intends to accept that offer. It's probably a fair price for the land - I seem to remember that the Board paid between $2 million and $3 million for it. (my memory was wrong: the school board paid $4.5 million for the whole 122 acres, which effectively means the 32 acres we kept is free, other than the interest on the debt)

That $4.5 million has a familiar ring - it's exactly the same amount of money that the school board cut from the operating budget for next year, resulting in the layoff of a number of teachers and staff members. Can we now restore that funding and bring back all those employees for next year?

Not to my knowledge. Capital funds (for buildings and other tangible assets) and operating funds are two different kinds of money which cannot be mixed. I don't know how exactly the $4.5 million will be used, and the Board has not said yet.

So who is "SC Interest, LLC" and what do they intend to do with the land? They are undoubtedly land speculators or land developers, and must have a pretty good idea what they're going to do with the land given that many homebuilders are trying to dispose of excess real estate holdings these days.

And if SC Interest purchased only 90 acres, what happens with the other 30 or so remaining of the original 122 acres purchased? School Board member Doug Maggied has long said that he thought we should hang on to a portion of that land, so we have a place to build the next school - the need for which will be accelerated by this sale.

I wonder if in the end, the people of the neighborhoods around there will wish they had let the high school be built on that land. We'd be in it by now instead of waiting another year for Bradley to be completed....


  1. Prior business names of "SC Interest llc":

  2. MI Homes. yippee!

  3. Thanks for the research. Looks like it's going to be M/I Homes building there, huh?

    We can expect at least 250 new homes and probably that many new kids (after all, people without kids can buy into the M/I development north of Hayden Run Rd for much less since that is Columbus Schools).

    An extra 250 kids will create $2.5 million per year in extra expense for the schools, while those homes will likely generate under $1 million per year in new property taxes. Given that we are flat funded by the State of Ohio, this means an additional $1.5 million per year that all the rest of us have to cover.

    It would have been cheaper to hold the land...

  4. It would have been cheaper to hold the land...

    It seems the powers-that-be have learned absolutely nothing from the funding crisis. You can't make it up.

  5. Wow, here we go again, so much for need those "experts on the board "
    I am beginning to think that this community leadership is so in bed with each other they cant see straight except for the campaign money

    New Albany as reported in the dispatch this morning, is looking to buying upland for parks, etc.
    to stop residential growth.

    As usual one of the leaders out there balked, talking about infrastructure fire etc. If you stop the residential, you need less infrastructure. Again, political money at the heart of it.

    So we are going to add more and more students. It would have been cheaper to hold on to the land
    given the effects down the road
    If we get 250 more ,thats 500 and
    we will need another building somewhere. More cost, more salaries
    at 7% 4% increases every year.

    But according to our school district leaders, The teachers union the taxpayer doesnt get it and doesnt care about the kids.

    Time for a house cleaning
    Will all of you just resign ?
    including the supt treasurer, and

  6. My understanding is that Mssrs Koppel and Schottenstein are independent developers rather than part of the M/I Homes operation, and, and that their goal is to market to young singles and empty nesters, meaning low impact on the schools.

    That would be a good thing. But there's an adage in business that a business plan lasts all the way up to the first sales call. Then you adapt what you have to sell to what it is the customer wants to buy.

    We also have to note that many homebuilders are selling off their land inventories these days to keep afloat. We don't know that SC Interests will be the ultimate developers of the land...

  7. It also appears that SC Interests LLC owns 40+ acres on Feder Rd in the name of "Feder Road Development Co". I believe this is in the proposed Town Center area. I wonder what their development strategy will be in this area?