Farmington school officials review revised Maxfield purchase

Most Farmington Public Schools trustees seem willing to accept $200,000 less for the Maxfield Training Center, after significant changes to the new owner’s redevelopment plan.

But one official says the district has already made too many “good will” concessions.

AC Acquisitions offered $1.2 million in September 2016 for the 3-acre site on Thomas Street in downtown Farmington. The initial proposal, to build a 155-unit apartment complex, stalled after neighbors raised concerns during Farmington Planning Commission hearings.

The company requested the price reduction after lowering the project’s density, to 60 owner-occupied condominiums.

“I’m always shocked that everybody comes back to the school district,” trustee Terry Johnson said. “I guess we’ve got this plethora of money in the bank that we should always for the purposes of good will give everything away. I’m wondering when is this going to eventually stop, and we’re going to take a business like approach to making sure that we do what’s in the best interest of our kids.”

While trustee Terri Weems shared Johnson’s concerns about “good will,” she said this instance is “a matter of what the site is worth today versus what it was perceived to have been worth before.” She pointed out that any developer who came forward now would be facing the same limitations.

Consultant Bill Bowman, of Great Northern Consulting, said the city’s Vision Plan for that property included taller buildings and parking, but “they’ve come down to, what can we really do that’s going to be acceptable to everybody.”

“It’s a very cool project, but it’s a math problem,” he said.

Johnson asked whether the city would be willing to “pony up some money” to make up for the loss to the district. Bowman said that it’s not unusual for a city to make changes after the public gets involved.

“A property is only worth what someone’s going to pay,” trustee Jim Stark said. “We’re not giving anyone money. We’re getting a price that’s more realistic for what it’s worth because of what the market will bear.”

“The sooner we get out of the real estate business, the better off we are,” he added. “Get it off our books so we can focus more on the education side.”

The revised agreement was presented for review; officials will likely see it as an action item at their March 27 meeting.

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