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updated: 4/20/2011 3:27 PM

Big Hollow lowers asking price for Route 12 property

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Big Hollow Elementary District 38 has dropped the asking price for the sale of its vacant Route 12 property.

The district had been asking for a $5 million minimum, but will start bidding for the vacant 12-acre site at routes 12 and 134 in Fox Lake at $2.8 million in a planned auction, board president Vickie Gallichio said Wednesday.

The auction is scheduled to take place after the district files the state-required documentation needed to sell the property, Gallichio said.

The price was reduced by the board following a recent appraisal of $4.2 million for the site, she said. That amount was $800,000 less than the previous appraisal four years earlier.

"We are starting the bids at $2.8 million at the auction in hopes of getting more bidders to the table when it takes place," Gallichio said. "But, we are hopeful we will be able to take in the appraisal price of $4.2 million when the auction is done."

The board has the right to reject all bids for any reason, even if the auction ends with a high bid of only $2.8 million, she said. However, she added officials hope is the auction will net the money the district needs.

"The parcel comes with sewer and water lines, which other empty parcels do not have, and it's a prime retail location," Gallichio said. "It should really do well."

The district is undecided on what to do with the money if the property sells as expected, she said.

Currently, District 38 is operating with a $2.4 million deficit for the 2010-11 fiscal year, and the state of Illinois is $1.8 million behind in funding. That shortfall has forced the district to cut 58 teachers and other support personnel to make ends meet.

At the same time, District 38 will need to plan for future construction, as the new Big Hollow campus at Nippersink and Fish Lake roads is at capacity and more growth is expected.

"The board has not made any decisions on what to do with the money from the sale of the land, if it happens at auction," she said. "It could go to offset the budget deficit to help us get through the school year, or it could go to future expansion to help us get through the next 20 years. That will need to be discussed by the board in the future."

The property at routes 12 and 134 has been up for sale since the district moved to the new campus in 2006.

Since putting the land up for sale, a purchase contract has been signed by two developers, but both backed out of the deals for different reasons.

The land remained dormant for about two years, before the district elected to demolish the two vacant school buildings earlier this year.

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