Arlington School District moves ahead to sell 180-acre site once planned for high school

ARLINGTON – The Arlington School District is selling a 180-acre property on Highway 530 that at one time had been planned for a new high school.

The property located 1.5 miles northeast of city limits at 9102 SR 530 is the largest parcel in the district’s undeveloped asset inventory.

The school board authorized the district to proceed with a Request for Letters of Interest Process starting Nov. 21. The board also approved a contract for professional real estate advisory services.

Through marketing and property listing, the process seeks to gather written responses from potential buyers, and serve as a pre-qualification of buyers based on their resources, experience, references, what they plan to do with the property, and the amount they are willing to pay, said Brian Lewis, district executive director of operations.

The general timeline over the coming months would include guided site tours, a Jan. 11 due date for letters, interviews if necessary conducted by an evaluation committee, and selecting a candidate as early as February, Lewis said.

“Once we select the candidate, that’s the one we want to talk with, then get an appraisal on the property,” Lewis said. “Then we’re negotiating.”

The district is taking a page from its playbook when it sold the Trafton property, which was the first sell-off of vacant district property using the same process.

Lewis emphasized that this is not to be construed as a purchase and sale agreement.

In 2014, the Facilities Advisory Committee drafted a facilities and property master plan. In that plan, committee members recommended selling properties that were not mission-related to educating. The committee believed that the district should not be in the business of holding real estate that it’s not going to use.

“A guiding principle is we want to use the most resources for the good of our students,” Lewis said.

Since the 530 site is not developed and unlikely to be, the school board authorized us to proceed. Best to start the process now, Lewis said.

The property includes a rental house that is in generally good condition but with questionable water and sewer utilities. Other farm structures appear to be in poor condition and unsafe for use now, according to the facilities master plan. The farm buildings specifically were closed in 2012, but had been used by the district for some student agricultural programs.

The district purchased the land in 1997 to site a new high school or sports fields. However, school bond measures failed to gain the 60 percent supermajority for passage by voters.

Lewis and others at the district concluded that among many reasons, the bond measures failed because parents were concerned about students driving to the site on a daily basis, and that there was a chance of flooding across roads used to access the site.

Arlington High School eventually opened in 2007 at its current location south of downtown on Highway 9 and closer to large residential neighborhoods.

For details contact Lewis at 360-618-6238 or email blewis@asd.wednet.edu.

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