- January 10, 2022
The School Board of Manatee County is planning to sell 17 acres in East County to offset the cost of a property for a new middle school in Parrish.
The school board owns 17 acres north of State Road 64 and west of Dam Road that were left over from a land swap the board finalized with Schroeder-Manatee Ranch in 2021.
“We rubbed our crystal ball and said, ‘Wow, this is where we need it,’” said Mike Pendley, an executive planner for the School District of Manatee County. “Well, the crystal ball was a little foggy because over the years, Lakewood Ranch has developed out a little differently than what we expected and probably what (SMR) expected, too. Everything about it was beneficial to the school district.”
The school board gave SMR 142 of the 159 acres at the property north of S.R. 64 and west of Dam Road in exchange for 103 acres on the north side of 59th Avenue East, just west of Pope Road, and 40 acres south of State Road 64 and east of Uihlein Road.
The 103-acre property on the north side of 59th Avenue East could be used for a future high school. The 40 acres east of Uihlein Road and south of S.R. 64 will be used to construct a K-8 school.
The 17 acres previously was going to be used to construct a bus depot when it was part of the original 159-acre parcel. The district planned to build a high school and middle school on that property but decided to swap land because the district saw growth happening farther south of S.R. 64 and more east in Lakewood Ranch.
“When we acquired that land back in 2007, they didn’t have all their development plans finalized,” Pendley said of SMR. “Over time, it became obvious that the site is not in a location to serve the larger population of Lakewood Ranch. We swapped the property to get school sites among the residential neighborhoods that they’re building that will allow students to walk to these sites and cut down on transportation costs.”
The school board decided to dispose of the 17-acre property because the board doesn’t own any adjacent property. The property also would require substantial road and utility infrastructure improvements.
If the district decided to develop school sites on the 17-acre property, the district would have to pay to put in turn lanes and traffic signals on S.R. 64, extend water and sewer to the site and build internal roadways.
SMR is providing any turn lanes, traffic signals, water and sewer lines, roadways and anything else necessary to build schools on the properties off Uihlein Road and 59th Avenue East.
When the district conducted the land swap with SMR, the 142 acres off Dam Road was appraised at $3,625,000 compared to the $10,550,000 appraisal for the 143 acres the district received.
“SMR knowingly did that,” Pendley said. “They want the schools to be accessible to their residents. They knew the deal was not a dollar-for-dollar deal but it’s something that benefits their community as well, so they worked with us.”
Pendley said the 17-acre site also no longer is a suitable location for a new bus depot. He said having a bus depot in Parrish would be more beneficial to the district. The district’s current bus depot is located at the Robert G. Matzke Support Center near Mixon Fruit Farms in Bradenton.
Having a bus depot in Parrish would prevent buses having to come back to the depot every evening to refuel. The buses could go to the satellite facility in Parrish instead, Pendley said.
Now the 17 acres will be sold to offset the cost of purchasing 30 acres for a new middle school in Parrish.
Neal Communities is in contract with SMR to purchase property north of S.R. 64 and west of Dam Road, which used to be owned by the School Board of Manatee County. Pendley said Neal Communities is going through an entitlement process with Manatee County to develop single-family residential homes on the property.
Haval Farms, which is a company managed by John and Pat Neal, reached out to the school board to see if Haval Farms can purchase the 17 acres to offset the cost of the school board buying 30 acres of land from Haval Farms in Parrish near North River Ranch.
The purchase price of the 30 acres is $2.7 million, according to board documents.
The 17 acres were appraised at $1,105,000. The school board will provide $1,145,000 as educational facility impact fee credits to Haval Farms. Haval Farms also will provide a $450,000 non-cash charitable donation to the school board.
Pendley said the district intends to close on the 30-acre property this summer. The agreement requires Haval Farms to put in all roads, water, sewer, sidewalks and other infrastructure necessary for the school sites.
“They’re building that as fast as they can,” Pendley said. “We’re just waiting for those infrastructures to be in place and then we will close on that property.”
The 17 acres were appraised at about $65,000 per acre compared to the 30 acres in Parrish being appraised at about $75,000 per acre, Pendley said.
“It’s only appraised at $10,000 an acre or so for basically a site that’s ready for a school,” Pendley said. “It shows that we’re getting a good value here.”