2016-08-12 / Front Page
District terminates $7M sale
SVUSD Cochran Street headquarters back on the market
More than a year after the Simi Valley Unified School District put its headquarters up for sale, the board of education this week killed a $7-million deal for the property and started the process over from scratch.
Two things triggered Tuesday’s unanimous decision by the board to terminate escrow with buyer Hufsdar Investments of Beverly Hills and reimburse the company’s $20,619 deposit for the SVUSD Educational Service Center at 875 E. Cochran St.
First, officials have not found a new site for the district’s main office. When the board approved the agreement with Hufsdar in December, the deal hinged on whether officials could find a place to move the SVUSD’s main offices within six months.
Second, routine checks during escrow revealed that an earthquake fault line runs through the rear portion of the parcel, below the area that houses the district’s maintenance facility and warehouse.
The discovery contributed to souring the deal, Todo said.
“Physical defects in the property, including its location on the Alquist Priolo Earthquake zone and liquefaction issues” prevented the successful sale of the property, he told the school board.
In July 2015, the board voted to sell off its headquarters, which it deemed “surplus property.”
Trustee Dan White told the Simi Valley Acorn in December the Educational Service Center is poorly designed and too small for the district’s needs.
The center houses about 80 employees and the district’s business and food services, the information technology department, the maintenance and facilities department and the district’s warehouse.
Hufsdar’s bid of just over $7 million, which was unsealed along with several other bids during a board meeting Dec. 8, was about $1 million more than the property’s appraised value.
Richard Darling, founder and owner of Conejo Constructors Corp. of Westlake Village, which owns Hufsdar Investments, told the Acorn last month his company planned to build a commercial development on the 12.7-acre property.
In hopes of making it easier for the district to sell its property, board members on Tuesday also approved a resolution asking the California Department of Education to waive a rule that requires districts to hold a public meeting and bidding process for the property.
Normally, the district would accept sealed bids from interested parties, revealing the bid amounts during the public meeting.
The waiver will eliminate that process and allow the district to market the property based on the brokerage process, “selling at the highest possible value on the most advantageous terms for the district,” an SVUSD staff report states.
“It would allow us to make the sale more like a typical real estate transaction,” Todo told the Simi Valley Acorn.
The resolution next goes to the state Department of Education, which will approve or deny the waiver.
That decision is expected to take two or three months, Todo said.
With the Hufsdar deal now dead, a big question mark hangs over the district’s next move, Todo said in an interview.
The board could decide to build new offices at the Cochran Street property, opt to buy a separate parcel on which to construct, or find existing buildings to lease or purchase.
No date has been set for further discussion of the matter.