Price drops for Farmington’s Maxfield Training Center purchase

Farmington city council members on Monday voted to amend a sales agreement with Farmington Public Schools (FPS) that drops the price of the Maxfield Training Center by $60,000.

While four officials enthusiastically supported the deal, council member Maria Taylor voted no. In a prepared statement, she cited concerns about how COVID-19 will affect the city’s budget. She said the purchase will drop the city’s fund balance below a level set by policy.

Taylor added that, between the purchase price and demolition and remediation costs, the city may lose money on the deal.

”I do not feel it is responsible to vote during the pandemic,” she said. “This purchase violates the policy we put in place for times such as this.”

Council member Steven Schneemann pointed out the purchase would mean future tax revenues for the city and the Downtown Development Authority (DDA), and Mayor Pro Tem Joe LaRussa called the purchase “a very strategic project”.

“Strategy doesn’t wait for the right time,” LaRussa said. “We have the resources available to execute for this. A decade … is long enough to have a signature parcel of land sitting vacant.“

The new deal

The agreement covers a 58,675-square-foot former junior high school shuttered in 2010 and about 3 acres of property, including a portion of Shiawassee Park owned by the district. LaRussa said completing park ownership is a “very high priority item.”

The city last June offered $750,000 for the property, which sits on Thomas Street between School and Warner Streets in downtown Farmington. That price was $250,000 less than a 2016 offer from private developer AC Acquisitions.

The company terminated its purchase agreement after putting forward several multi-family housing proposals for the site.

The purchase agreement’s second amendment, posted on the FPS website, lists the new purchase price at $690,000. It immediately releases a $10,000 deposit held with the title company and requires completion of the sale within 10 weeks or when financing is secured, whichever comes first.

Officials plan to market the property for private development. As soon as the amendment is approved, City Manager David Murphy said, staff will prepare a Request for Qualifications (RFQ) to evaluate potential developers.

FPS trustees will consider the amendment during their May 5, 6 p.m., electronic board meeting. The agenda and supporting materials are posted on the district’s website.

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