- Written by Mike Martin
Land prices start low -- then soar
COLUMBIA, 12/4/11 (Beat Byte) -- Bait-and-switch schemes will pay off handsomely for principals of St. Charles Road Development (SCRD) in 2011, with the sale of land for a new elementary school and a new city park near Battle High.
Here's how the schemes worked.
SCRD -- partners Bob Pugh, Tom Atkins, Scott Atkins, Rob, Wolverton and the Bob Lemone Trust -- "came to the rescue" with land for Battle High in 2007.
Several competing parcels -- including the famous "Vemer tract" -- had created an explosive controversy.
Calling it part "gift" and part "sale," the group played up a "discount" they said Columbia Public Schools would get: 79 acres for $900,000, or $11,400/acre.
District officials later found themselves on the hook for $2.9 million in infrastructure costs -- sewer, water, lights, sidewalks, streets -- some of which will serve SCRD, which has a residential subdivision planned near the new schools and proposed park.
Fast forward 4 years, when Pugh, Atkins and partners announced yet another sale to Columbia Public Schools for a new elementary school -- 32 acres in the same area, but this time for $1.5 million, or about $50,000/acre.
This month, the development team is back again, offering 30 acres to the City of Columbia in the area for a park. The price for this acreage: $681,000, or $23,000/acre.
Though the first land sale came at a discount, subsequent land sales drove up the average price to $21,000/acre for 141 acres.
Too bad district officials didn't demand discounts across the board, especially given the bulk quantity of land purchased.