City Property For Sale - Possible Recreational Facility?
The City acquired the 80 acres pictured below for about $12,500 a year or so ago because the owner was more than $350,000 behind in taxes. Yesterday, it made the news that the Fair Board was interested in this piece of property. Here are my thoughts on making sure the city gets a good value for that piece of property.
Some of these 80 acres could be very valuable as far as sales price, TIF revenue and income tax. Some of these 80 acres have limited commercial value but are very well suited for recreational activities. Suppose 10 acres are prime highway front commercial grade properties. If a “big box” chain such as Lowes were to build there, it is likely they would expect to pay around $250,000 an acre to acquire, generate more than $75,000 in TIF revenue and $100,000 in income tax revenue each year.
The Big Box store would be a great catch and with all the monetary gains the city could do a lot to make the rest of the 70 acres a great recreational facility, (or leave it to nature). But what is the likelihood and what is the timing of getting a big box store? It certainly it won’t be Lowes.
On the other hand, taking the news reports at face value, having the Fair Board interested in the property could work in both the City’s interest in providing recreational activities while allowing the Fair Board to maximize their dollars to produce a great venue. When I talk about the City’s interest to provide recreational activities, I mean it needs to be done for more than just one or two weeks a season.
To put on a good fair, we know that a large exhibition hall will be built. If it is designed correctly, for 50 weeks a year it could be used for indoor soccer. But in order for it to be useful for indoor soccer it needs to be designed without support poles in an (x) by (y) foot area and the ceiling will need to be (w) feet high. In order for it to be used as both an exhibition hall and an indoor soccer facility the turf has to be suitable for both, or the turf has to be easily removable and stored. I would be willing to trade some sales price of the land if we have clauses in the contract that say when the exhibition hall (or a large barn) is built, it is built in a way that will make it useful as an indoor soccer facility and that the Fair Board will ensure that it is operated as such.
If city staff and the Fair Board were serious about wanting my support for tradeoffs like this when I see that contract it will come with values for (x), (y) and (w). There will be a plan for Turf and a commitment for making sure the facility is used as an indoor soccer facilitate at least (XXX) hours a year. If those commitments aren’t met then the city should have in the contract a means for recovering some of the sales and tax costs we might originally give up.
A combined exhibition hall / indoor soccer facility is an example of an efficient way to provide a mutually beneficial arrangement between the city and the Fair Board. Other things that I think would also fill that bill are RV facilities, a BMX track, fishing at the 12-acre pond. These are suggestions and I hope to hear other suggestions from council and the residents of the City. It is important to keep in mind that in order for items like these to be beneficial to the city, someone like you has to suggest them, then we need to negotiate with the Fair Board to make sure they make sense for both of us. Obviously, we wouldn't negotiate for indoor soccer if they weren't already planning on building an exhibition center or if they already had plan to use the Exhibition center as a veterinary clinic. In order for these suggestions to makes sense there has to be a plan for them to be available more than just 2 weeks a year. We need to put requirements in the contract. In order for them to be in the contract, staff will have to do the background research in order to put those details on paper.
In the next couple weeks / months the council may see a proposal for this 80 acres. I’ll judge how much staff wants my support by reviewing the tangible benefits to the city that show up in the proposed arrangement. If the contract language says “and the Fair board will consider building an operating a BMX facility” I’ll see that they don’t want my support very badly. If they come back along with representatives from the local BMX club that provided details on what makes a great BMX facility and enough of those details are in the contract to make sure it is built and operated, then I would be willing to give up some sales price to make that happen. The more details about RV operations, fishing ponds and bike trails in the contract the greater the benefit to the City and the Fair Board and I will be whole hearted supporter.
On July 11, 2016 there was an agenda item that council approved the possible sale of land the city acquired last year due to the owner not paying taxes for a number of years. There are about 80 acres and it is located next to Gander Mountain and behind Lowes. The agenda item talks about the possibility of the sale going to an entity that would put in a recreational facility.
What kind of recreational facility do you think could go into this land? How much do you think land like this is worth? How much notice do you think residents need before Council approves the sale? Comments
I'd like to know your thoughts.