Lake Havasu Unified School District kills land sale
With a unanimous no vote Tuesday, Lake Havasu Unified School District Governing Board has decided it was not in its best interest to sell land it owns along Swanson Avenue.
“Everything lined up against this deal,” said board President John Masden. “It really wasn’t something we wanted to do.”
In October, Los Angeles businessman Mayer Akntarzad approached the board through his real estate agent Amber Hoffman offering a land exchange. The board was hesitant, but directed staff to iron out the details of a swap or a sale.
Although Akntarzad shifted gears and approached the district with a request to purchase the land instead of an exchange, submitting a $46,000 offer, board members felt that was less than what the land was worth or the potential worth if the downtown corridor is developed.
Three similar properties along Swanson have been purchased by Akntarzad for $50,000 per lot with the goal to build a three-story building that would include retail shops and apartment rental units across from the Arizona State University-Lake Havasu City campus.
“This is a project that we are trying to get off the ground and now we are six months behind,” Hoffman said.
The sticking point with the sale option is that if the appraisal is at or above $50,000 – under state statute – it would require registered voters in the school district to approve the sale. If a special election is held, it could cost the school district as much as $80,000.
“This is why we didn’t want to do this,” Masden said. “I’m not sure a sale is in the district’s best interest.”
Although the sale received a thumbs’ down response by the board, an alternative option – the land exchange – fared worse, failing for the lack of a motion.
“In my point of view, a land exchange didn’t improve the district’s land holdings,” Masden said. “Why would we want to go through the time and effort on the staff side when it would be something that didn’t benefit the district in the short or long term?”