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NVSD looking to sell or lease four school properties
Moving ahead with plans to offload nearly a dozen vacant school sites, the North Vancouver School District is putting four properties valued at more than $26 million on the auction block.
On July 6, the school district issued a request for proposals to buy or lease the former Monteray elementary, Ridgeway Annex, Keith Lynn and Plymouth elementary school sites in North Vancouver city and district.
With a combined 2011 BC Assessment value of $26,214,000, the schools are just four of 11 surplus properties valued at $137 million that the board is considering ridding itself of. In all, the 11 properties comprise 28.61 hectares of some of the last development-friendly land located in the heart of North Van’s residential neighbourhoods.
North Vancouver School District secretary-treasurer Irene Young told The Outlook that while the board hasn’t received any proposals on the properties just yet, they have received requests for the paperwork.
“People usually wait until the end,” Young said in a phone interview Tuesday. “The RFP is open until September 28 so we probably won’t actually see too many submissions much before that date.”
In the meantime, Young expects would-be buyers and renters will want to take the time to arrange tours of the building sites and do their own studies on the properties before making any offers.
Under the RFP rules, it’s possible all four properties could wind up being sold to the same developer, Young said. Though such a case is highly unlikely.
“They’re all such different properties,” said Young. “A medium- to large-size developer might be interested in a property like a Plymouth or a Keith Lynn because it is larger and they don’t necessarily deal with small properties like Monteray and Ridgeway Annex that might be more suitable for a much smaller developer.”
Both Plymouth and Monteray have found themselves at the auction block before. Vacated in 2010, Plymouth was given the RFP treatment soon after but garnered no interest from the development community.
A year later, Monteray was shopped around for expressions of interest in buying or leasing the property, getting two bites before the process fell by the wayside with the November 2011 election of a new school board.
But with renewed interest earlier this year, the school district decided to explore selling or leasing the 11 properties now deemed surplus to its needs.
That has caused some criticism among residents’ groups who have called the move short-sighted, saying once these publicly owned lands are gone, they’re gone forever.
The outcry was quelled somewhat by a series of public open-house forums hosted by the school district to discuss the best uses for the surplus properties. Responding to those resident concerns — as well as those of their council — the District of North Vancouver government approved a resolution on May 9 to draw up a bylaw prohibiting the school board from selling, leasing or otherwise using its school lands for any non-education related purpose, wherein those other uses could result in increased traffic or parking demands near the school sites.
However, after a closed-door meeting the following evening between the school board and both North Vancouver city and district councils, that district resolution may have been scrapped or put on hold, as nothing has since come back to council on it.
The Outlook could not confirm the status of that May 9 resolution with district hall before press time Wednesday, but both school board secretary-treasurer Young and board chair Franci Stratton said they were confident that with enough communication between the school district and district hall, the resolution wouldn’t throw a wrench into the RFP process when council returns to session and the RFP process closes in September.
“Nothing’s come to us at this point,” Stratton said in a phone interview on the land-sale resolution Tuesday. “Down the road, when we open up the process in the fall, after we’ve received the RFPs after September 28, then we just need to make sure we’re communicating and we’re on-line having those conversations.”
Once all the proposals are in, the school district will make public any proposals they are considering for approval, likely in October.