Update: Jennifer Gates’ office just sent the following statement: “Following yesterday’s Public Auction sale of the Forest/Nuestra ‘library land’, I want to provide an update to the community.
As you may recall from my previous communications, a minimum bid was set in Executive Session by the City Council. The minimum bid amount was based on the most recent appraisal of the property plus expenditures already incurred by the City of Dallas.
The reserve amount for the property was not met, therefore, no bid was accepted. It is not confirmed at this point, but we anticipate to go out for bid again, possibly with a contingency.”
You know that patch of land at 5639 Forest Lane in Melshire Estates, not too far from the Dallas North Tollway overpass, about 3.5 acres, that the City of Dallas put up for auction yesterday?
This was supposed to be the site of a brand-new Preston Hollow library to replace the one on Royal Lane, just about a mile south. Yes, that building is old and small, but it’s charming, and I rather enjoy taking my grand-daughter there because it evokes memories of taking my son and daughter there. So full disclosure, I’m kind of glad we are going to use the proceeds from the auction sale of this property to fix the old one up. But a library or dog park or mini Farmer’s Market would have been great here — pipe dreams.
But about the auction: it didn’t meet the city’s reserve. So the council and appropriate departments have to analyze the highest bid, which was $2.4 million, and decide whether to take it. Or not.
I’m told the “successful bidder” is a church, I’m just not sure which one. Very disappointing, would have loved to see there what the neighborhood really needed: the aforementioned or townhomes or zero lot downsizer homes like lock and leaves but the neighbors were dead set against anything but single-family residential. Which is likely never going to happen: even townhomes would be tough to turn, given the price of the land and the tollway so close. The church apparently bid about $2.4 million for 3.5 acres. This will be like deja vu. And do churches pay property taxes?
You may recall The Korean Young Nak Presbyterian Church once sat here, but moved to Plano. Last year, Robert Wilonsky estimated “the land could go for around $1.8 million at auction, which is about $800,000 less than the current owner paid.” He reported the city sank more than $3.2 million into the site (ouch); there never was enough bond money to build the new library.
Gates wasn’t on the council when the city set aside $5 million in 2006 bond money to acquire the land. And she wasn’t there four years later, when City Hall still didn’t have the cash to build the library but went ahead and bought the land from the church because, so we were told, it was a steal at $2,670,914. And she wasn’t there when the city spent $76,610 to demo the church. Or another $359,631 on a wasted design.
Sources who were at the auction tell me the city might be darn lucky to get $2.4, because $1.8 was about all most developers would have paid for it given the zoning.
I’m awaiting official word from Jennifer Gate’s office on whether the city will accept the price, and who the buyer actually is. Stay tuned.