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updated: 4/9/2013 11:09 AM

Geneva school land sale put on hold School board will hang on to Keslinger site until market improves

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Geneva school board members have delayed selling 28 acres of surplus land for at least six months, after learning its value has dropped more than 68 percent since the district bought it in 2006.

"I don't want to take a loss on it. It's not a fire sale. We want to recoup our investment," said board President Mark Grosso, who had pushed for the sale of the property at Brundige and Keslinger roads since his election in 2009.

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The board put the land up for bid in January, at a minimum price of $2.2 million. That price would cover the $600,000 the district paid Kane County for improvements on Brundige, including kicking in toward a bridge replacement.

There were no takers. It decided in March to try using a real estate agent, on a 120-day contract, for the same minimum price. But according to Donna Oberg, the district's assistant superintendent for business services, agents told her the land would fetch only about $500,000 now.

To sell it for less than $2.2 million in those 120 days, the district would have to restart the process.

The district intended to build a bus garage there, centralize its maintenance equipment, and to put in practice athletics fields. This was when the district expected enrollment to keep growing, and it expected to have built an elementary school in La Fox.

The recession put a halt to the growth, and the district is using fewer buses. It still can't fit them all in its bus garage, but it parks the rest outside overnight at Geneva Middle Schools North and South.

The district also discovered that if it built a garage on the site, it would have to use about 30 percent of the land to manage stormwater drainage, cutting in to what could be used for athletics fields.

The land is zoned for industrial use.

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