KELOWNA - For sale: one well-used school board office built in 1972 and the four acres of land that sits under it. Asking price: $6.5 million. Make us an offer, please.
After three years on the market and a recent price cut, the Central Okanagan School District head office across from Orchard Park Mall, which is listed through Colliers International, has yet to sell.
“We dropped it from $6.9 million to $6.5 because we weren’t getting any activity at the higher price,” secretary-treasurer Larry Paul says. “It has generated a bit more activity but obviously nothing solid."
Paul said the listing on the B.C. Government’s real property division that lists the site as 'conditionally sold' is more like wishful thinking.
“They are being a bit liberal with their interpretation,” he says, noting two private companies, responding to a tender from the Interior Health Authority for an extended care facility, have included the purchase of the site as part of their proposal.
Paul says there have been several offers to buy over the last few years where the deal collapsed before closing.
“They’re either not getting the indication from the city on the zoning they want or the financing fell apart.”
Should the land finally sell, the net proceeds would be used to build a larger adminstration office on the district’s Hollywood Road site, which has spare land and is already home to some administration offices.
“There’s already a lot of windshield time going back and forth from Hollywood,” Paul says. “This would eliminate that and we probably don’t have to build as large a building because we can get at Hollywood’s meeting rooms."
The school board considered but rejected a plan to rebuild the board office on the same site.
“Without being able to extract the value of the land, we would have no money to rebuiild at Hollywood,” Paul adds.
Fortunately for the cash-strapped school board the Ministry of Education cannot take the proceeds away, as they can and often do after the sale of a redundant school, using the 'shareable capital' provision.
One of the lots that make up the Underhill Road site was already in school board hands before education went provincial in 1946, and the other was financed using local money, Paul says.
“The ministry has made no contribution to it so they don’t get the money.”
Don’t look for the successful purchaser of the Underhill Road site to keep the aging adminstration office.
“I suspect what they are trying to buy is the airspace above it for a high-rise,” Paul says.
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