School system tends 220 expensive, but unused, acres

Tue, 10/27/2009 - 4:09pm
By: Ben Nelms

Besides being the largest employer in the county, the Fayette County School System is also the owner of some expensive — and unused — real estate. And aside from the obvious use of most of its property for schools and offices, how much land is lying unused and off the tax rolls?

The school system owns six such properties totaling more than 220 acres scattered across the county that are either vacant land, adjacent to schools and unused or soon to be unused.

The school system has been advertising the sale of nearly 100 of those unused acres for many months on its website, but so far there have been no takers.

Situated at near dead-center of Fayette County is approximately 60 acres projected to be used as a future high school. The property is located along Ga. Highway 54 between Phase 1 of the West Fayetteville Bypass and Tyrone Road. The property lies on a rise approximately a quarter-mile north of Hwy. 54.

The 60-acre site was purchased in September 2002 from the Lester family for $888,783.

The Inman Road property currently listed for sale on the school system website includes 99.06 acres on Ga. Highway 92 and Inman Road, adjacent to the new Inman Elementary School on its 30-acre site. The property carries an asking price of $2.5 million.

The school system purchased the entire 129.06-acre site from the Harp family in January 2006 for $2,910,689.

A 50-acre tract of unused property sits behind Whitewater High School and is mostly wetlands. The school system continues to explore the idea of having the property used for relatively valuable wetlands mitigation credits for road or utility construction efforts.

Also on the Whitewater property is a tract of approximately 10 acres situated west of the county fairgrounds area. That property is a possible site for a back-up septic system.

The Whitewater High School property was purchased from three property owners in May 2001 for $1,123,535. Additionally, the school system sold 4.79 acres to Lisbon Baptist Church in March 2002 for $311,640.

Older property purchases by the school system included those that became North Fayette Elementary and East Fayette Elementary. The 35-acre North Fayette property was purchased in September 1976 for $80,500. The seller of the property was not immediately available in school system records.

School system Facilities Director Mike Satterfield said a small unused portion of the property was once considered as the site for a potential second school, though those plans were later abandoned.

Representing what today could be virtually nostalgic, the East Fayette Elementary property in Fayetteville was purchased for $2,000 in April 1952. No longer used as a school once Inman Elementary opened last year, East Fayette has been the home of a number of administrative staff due to the past storm damage at the Lafayette Education Center LEC).

Those staff will be returning to LEC in the near future, leaving East Fayette with no occupants. Satterfield said the last appraisal valued the approximately 6-acre property at approximately $5 million. It lies about a block south of Ga. Highway 54 East in downtown Fayetteville.

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suggarfoot's picture
Submitted by suggarfoot on Sat, 10/31/2009 - 9:58am.

I agree with the other poster, now doesn't seem the time to sell, but it would have been so much nicer if extra land was never bought in the first place. Now we are stuck with something we can't sell and it looks more and more like they are going to cut teachers.

It is too late now, but I wish that so many teachers hadn't been duped into voting the same group back in.

I will never look at vacant Rivers Elementary and not think of 'what if'.

Another thing that has puzzles me, why didn't we use the insurance money to fix the Lafayette center? Did we not have insurance on it? or did we use the money for something else? Does anyone know?

Submitted by Spyglass on Wed, 10/28/2009 - 10:39am.

The County is much better off holding on to these properties. Raw land prices are very deflated in today's market. In my opinion, holding the land would be a better investment than selling at a deflated price and getting 1.5% on the money in a bank. The Market will come back, it always has.

matt.barnes's picture
Submitted by matt.barnes on Wed, 10/28/2009 - 10:29am.

There are a lot of restrictions for what can be built next to schools. That said, can we even expect to get fair market values for these properties? How are they zoned?

What do you do with an old school building?

Submitted by jackyldo on Wed, 10/28/2009 - 6:42am.

sitting on many millions of dollars of land ,,and having (one old empty) and 1 brand new (empty not needed) school.

We have a road department building roads through woods on both sides of Fayetteville to bypass traffic congestion that is at most a few minutes delay..

What do they both have in common a need to come back time and time again for SPLOST...

JUST SAY NO people don't give them anymore CRACK !!
They are addicts wasting your hard earn money..

I am a Progressive Liberal against tax and tax..and tax some more,

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