School board waits on second appraisal for Roosevelt

BY ALEX SHEETS | JUNE 06, 2012 6:30 AM

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Students walked the halls one final time at Roosevelt Elementary School May 31 and the fate of the property remains undetermined.

Iowa City Community School Board members rejected the first bid of roughly $200,000 at the Tuesday School Board meeting and will seek out a second appraisal on the property.

A bid was received for the property through a competitive bid process by Place Partners LLC in Iowa City for $201,595. Discussions will continue during the next meeting on June 19 after a second appraisal of Roosevelt has been completed.

Superintendent Steve Murley did not believe the bid was appropriate for the appraised worth of the property.

"[There was a] disparity of bid and appraised value," Murley said.

The community around Roosevelt has some restrictions for what the new property owners can do with the property. The potential buyers are not to touch the ravine on the property. In addition, the land is not to be used for retail shopping, liquor stores, bars, or gas stations, Murley said.

"[It should be] reflective of what the neighborhood fits," Murley said, noting the neighborhood wants a transitional piece of property.

In the original appraisal, an additional access road to the school was left out. Murley made sure to include that for the future appraisal, suggesting it would increase the property's value.

The board asked for feedback from the community about what kind of property should replace Roosevelt. It stands currently between a high density and single-family community.

Yet Casey Cook, appraiser at Cook Appraisal in Iowa City, said the reason the bid was so low is because of the pressure that the neighborhood around Roosevelt is putting on the School Board.

"[The neighborhood] shouldn't always be getting their way," Cook said.

The surrounding community doesn't want any multiple-family facilities to be built on the property, he said. It is constraining the potential buyers, causing additional strains on the budget of the school board. He also said the appraisal value would be much higher, along with the bid, if development for mulitple-family housing was permitted.

The school district can choose to hire a realtor to sell the property or go back to the competitive bid process now that the original bid has been rejected.

There have been numerous inquiries since the bidding closed April 30 with interest in the property, according to the Tuesday board packet.

Marla Swesey, president of the school board, had said several people of the neighborhood sent emails to her, pleased with the plan of Place Partners with the property.

"[Place Partners has] been keeping a very open dialogue," Murley said in response. Potentially, Place Partners could place another bid after the second appraisal.

The 81-year-old elementary school has closed its doors to students, faculty, and staff, and will be replaced by Norman Borlaug Elementary in Coralville, opening Aug. 16.

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