UPDATE as of 9:00 a.m. Wednesday:Following the posting of this article Patch received the following email in response to the Q&A release from the PASD:
In response to the article in The Patch November 20 regarding PASD’s eminent domain proceeding against Meadow Brook Golf Club, Pat and Bruce want to let everyone know that we are not and have not been willing sellers. We were always open to offers, but never stated we wanted to sell to PASD. If the school board wants it, they should make us a realistic offer, which they never have. It is true we have had discussions with the school board over the years, but they have never been willing to meet our asking price.
Pat Campbell Young & Bruce Campbell
The following questions and answers were provided to Patch by the PASD:
Are the Meadow Brook Golf Course Owners willing sellers?
Yes. The District has been in discussions, off and on, with the Meadow Brook Owners for over the past five years. During that time, the Owners have repeatedly stated their desire to sell the property to PASD, as well as to other potential buyers. As recently as May 2013, the Owners of Meadow Brook again initiated the conversation asking if the District was interested in purchasing their property. In a letter dated October 24, 2013, the Owners rejected the most recent offer made by the District, but restated their desire to sell the property to Phoenixville Area School District.
How did the District determine “Fair Market Value”?
As part of the District’s property acquisition process, a professional real estate appraisal was completed in May of this year, placing a fair market value on the property of $3.725 Million. The District requested an appraisal indicating the “highest and best use” of the property; the reasonable and probable use that will support the highest present value of the property. In this case, the highest and best use, for appraisal purposes, is for development of the property as a residential subdivision with 55 lots. The appraisers looked at comparable sales in the area, market conditions, cost to construct homes, etc. With all of these considerations in mind, the fair market value of the property at this time was appraised at the $3.725 Million figure. In 2008, with the booming housing market resulting in much higher land values, the District offered the Meadow Brook Owners $8 Million for the property. At that time, the Owners of Meadow Brook were convinced it was worth $14 Million, and negotiations stalled to a halt. As we have stated, the District is committed to a fair outcome for all parties—the current Owners of Meadow Brook, the District, and the taxpayers—but, we have a fiduciary responsibility not to overpay for any property.
Did the District really look at any properties aside from Meadow Brook Golf Course?
Yes. The District conducted an extensive search for suitable properties. In December 2012, the District engaged a real estate consultant to assist with identifying properties of at least 20 acres in size anywhere in the Borough of Phoenixville, East Pikeland Township and Schuylkill Township. In total, 95 properties were identified across all three municipalities. Fifty properties (53% of total) were in East Pikeland Township.
In March 2013, when the Board chose the construction of a new combination district-wide early learning center/elementary school as its long-term solution, an evaluation model using weighted criteria was used to rank the properties. The weighted criteria included factors such as total size in acres, proximity to the center of the district, proximity to the center of East Pikeland Township, quality of road access, and ease of development. The evaluation model produced a short list of highly ranked properties which were investigated further, including site visits by District personnel. In addition, the District contacted the owners of the highly ranked properties to explore the possibility of acquiring their land.
In May/June 2013, two finalist properties emerged: Technical College High School – Pickering Campus (TCHS-P) on Charlestown Road at Buckwalter Road and Meadow Brook Golf Course. Both properties were pursued in parallel over several months through the summer and fall. The pursuit included in depth conversations with the Chester County Intermediate Unit and negotiations with the Meadow Brook Owners. After the elimination of TCHS-P as a viable site, the District was left with only Meadow Brook Golf Course as the site for the required new school.