2016-12-23 / Front Page

District headquarters back on the market

By Michael Aushenker

After being forced to terminate a $7-million deal over the summer, Simi Valley Unified School District is poised to make a fresh start in listing its Cochran Street headquarters for sale, this time with more flexibility.

District officials had been working since August to obtain a waiver from the California Department of Education that would allow them to sell off the nearly 12.7-acre property piecemeal rather than as one parcel.

After obtaining the waiver last month, the district now has more flexibility in terms of selling the property, said Ron Todo, associate superintendent of business and facilities.

“It is not tying us down to any one thing,” he said, adding that the district now has the ability to entertain multiple scenarios, such as exchanging parts of the property or a particular building.

“This really opens up a lot of conversations,” he said.

According to the district’s “request for offers” document, which essentially puts the site back on the market, the updated appraised value for the entire Cochran Street property, including buildings, is $9.8 million.

The property has been broken down into three parcels, which may be sold separately under the waiver.

Parcel A, the 5.3-acre front portion of the site, is valued at $3.3 million. The 3.5-acre parcel B, which includes the maintenance and operations building, is valued at $4.2 million. Parcel C, the 3.9-acre back portion of the property, is valued at $2.3 million.

In August, SVUSD had to terminate escrow with Beverly Hills-based Hufsdar Investments, which had moved to buy the entire property, including the separate maintenance and facilities hub and warehouse, for $7 million.

The deal was terminated primarily because the 17,600-student district was unable to find a new headquarters within the six-month contingency period outlined in its agreement with Hufsdar.

The Cochran Street property has an earthquake fault line running through a corner of the site, which raised some concern at the time.

Todo told the Simi Valley Acorn this week that the fault line, which runs through a portion of Parcel C, did not thwart the deal with Hufsdar.

“If escrow had continued, then the existence and location of the fault line would have been investigated,” Todo said. “Based on that information, it would then be determined what could or could not be built in that area of the property.”

Todo said it was ultimately the district’s failure to find a new location for its headquarters that led to the deal’s demise. It was not just a matter of finding a large enough building but the right kind of facility that would adequately function as an education center, he said.

Whether the fault line resurfaces as an issue with the next prospective buyer depends on the party purchasing the parcel and its intended use, Todo said.

For example, if a buyer purchases parcel C but decides not to erect a structure on it, the fault line would not be an issue, he said.

At the Dec. 6 school board meeting, trustees moved to form a real estate acquisitions and dispositions subcommittee, appointing Eric Lundstrom and Dan White to head the advisory body.

“ We’re looking at offers coming in beginning in March,” said Todo, who also sits on the committee.

The spring start date follows a 60-day advertising period in which the district will publish a public notice in the Ventura County Star.

Realtors Mike Tingus of Lee & Associates and Joel Kirchenstein with the Sage Group, who handled the August negotiations and report directly to Todo and Superintendent Jason Peplinski, continue to represent the property.

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