Traverse City Record-Eagle

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July 3, 2014

TCAPS board committee declines purchase offer

TRAVERSE CITY — Thanks, but no thanks.

That's how Traverse City Area Public Schools officials will respond to a local developer's unsolicited request to purchase the district's administration building.

TCAPS school board members discussed Gene LaFave's offer to buy the building, located at the intersection of Boardman Avenue and Webster Street, during a Wednesday committee meeting.

Paul Soma, the district's interim superintendent, told committee members that TCAPS officials have neither a plan in place nor the financial resources needed to relocate the district's administrative offices and print shop.

"It's not for sale, simply because we're unable to sell it relative to moving out. Therefore, we are not going to engage in a process to sell it," Soma said Wednesday.

LaFave and local real estate agent Mark Eckhoff stopped by the administration building unannounced about two weeks ago. They wanted to take a look around and first called school board member Scott Hardy, who in past years solicited Eckhoff's help with a campaign for a city commission seat.

Hardy said he told LaFave and Eckhoff to check in when they entered the building and to direct any questions about their interest in the site to TCAPS administrators.

District officials received a letter from Eckhoff on Tuesday that stated one of his clients -- LaFave -- was interested in purchasing the facility.

TCAPS officials have long considered moving the district’s administrative offices and print shop out of their old, outdated and inefficient current site to a remodeled location, but officials estimate the costs of such a move would far outweigh any revenue earned by selling the administration building.

"It would be wonderful to have some sort of a development here and have that going for this neighborhood and town, but I don't think we really have the opportunity right now to move," finance committee member Megan Crandall said.

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