Staff recommends City Commission approval to begin the process to market and sell 75 acres of City-owned land south of CR 470, east of Florida’s Turnpike, and west of CR 33 for industrial development; and to bring forth land use and rezoning applications for same.
The City currently owns over 3,300 acres of land in the vicinity of C.R. 470 and Florida’s Turnpike. Much of the property was purchased by the City’s Wastewater Fund for the Turnpike wastewater treatment plant, sprayfields, and residuals application. Approximately 600 acres on the north side of 470 are in the planning stages for the Lake Denham Commerce Park, an industrial and commercial business park that will bring jobs and commerce to Leesburg. That project is awaiting funding and the realignment of C.R. 470 by Lake County. The balance of the property is either in use by the Wastewater Department, is currently unused, or is future park space that was acquired through the Florida Forever program.
On the south side of C.R. 470, the City’s property is currently being used as sprayfields. The property is ideally situated for industrial development, and is not affected by the proposed realignment of the road. The use of the property as a sprayfield is becoming increasingly unnecessary with the advent of reuse water, making it possible for the City to consider its sale and hopefully its development into an industrial use. The Future Land Use (FLU) designation is Institutional and the zoning is Public. Both of these will have to be changed to accommodate industrial development. If the City desires to sell the property, it should make application for the changes ahead of the sale. The City will have the ability to control the types of industrial development, so to avoid a situation similar the recent problems with Rogers Industrial Park. Impacts to residential areas of Okahumpka could be addressed in advance of development.
The City currently has several unfunded needs that have prompted staff to consider the sale of the property. The first is the need to bring the General Fund fund balance (cash reserves) into compliance with the newly-established cash reserve policy without having to consider the cash available in the Special Revenue Funds. The City separated the Special Revenues from the General Fund in the summer of 2007 specifically to see what the cash position will be without them. This gives us a clearer and more accurate picture of the General Fund reserves. In order to get to a position of compliance independent of Special Revenues (which the City needs to do), the General Fund will need about $1.05M in additional cash. Since a conservative estimate of the sale value of the 75 acres is over $3.5M, more than enough money could be raised by liquidating the property.
Other unfunded needs could also be addressed with the balance of the funds. First, the City is paying $124,000 per year for lease of approximately 6,000 square feet of office space at 1300 Citizens Blvd. for the offices of the Community Development Department. Building space is also being leased at 118 W. Meadow Street for the Communications Division for $18,240 per year. The Commission has indicated a desire to terminate the leases as soon as possible and relocate those offices to the old library building. The current estimate for the bare-bones project is around $300,000, including furniture. This estimate is subject to change as additional information is acquired. In any case, funds are not budgeted for this purpose and General Fund cash reserves are not at a sufficient level to permit their use.
The second project is the Kristen Court apartment complex renovation. The City is pursuing a partnership with the County’s SHIP program, as well as other sources, to pay for renovation of the units. The intent is to sell the renovated units as affordable single family housing. While staff is optimistic about the potential to secure the funds, a contingency should be made in the event that some or all of the funds are not available. Even with such funding, sufficient liquidity is needed for cash management purposes during project construction. Again, such funding is not currently budgeted or available from General Fund reserves.
Depending on the ultimate sales price, it is possible that other projects could be addressed as well. Possible projects include everything from acquisition of Dabney Elementary for the future Fire Station #1 to providing more funding for the Magnolia Extension project or facilitating Beacon College’s relocation to the Lee School via financial incentives.
Any proceeds generated by the sale must first repay the Wastewater fund for the purchase price, which was around $2,800 per acre, plus interest.
Staff will begin the process by acquiring an appraisal of the property and preparing a Request-for-Bids (RFB). The appraisal will be submitted to the Commission for their approval and establishment of a “reserve price.” The reserve price will be the amount below which the City is not obligated to accept an offer. After the Commission has set the reserve price, the RFB will be published and the highest offer from a qualified party that exceeds the reserve price shall be the winning bidder. The RFB opening date will be approximately 30 days from the publication date.
1. Approve the Resolution as presented; or
2. Such alternative action as the Commission may deem appropriate
The City could realize a positive fiscal impact between $3.5M and $5.5M from the sale. The proceeds of which will be used to repay the Wastewater Fund and bring cash reserves in the General Fund into compliance with the new cash reserve policy. Excess proceeds will be used at the direction of the Commission.
Prepared by: Jay M. Evans
Attachments: Yes_X__ No ______
Advertised: ____Not Required ______
Attorney Review : Yes___ No ____
Reviewed by: Dept. Head ________
Finance Dept. __________________
Deputy C.M. ___________________
City Manager ___________________
Account No. _________________
Project No. ___________________
WF No. ______________________
A RESOLUTION OF THE CITY COMMISSION OF THE CITY OF LEESBURG, AUTHORIZING STAFF TO BEGIN THE PROCESS TO MARKET AND SELL 75 ACRES OF CITY-OWNED LAND ON CR 470 FOR INDUSTRIAL DEVELOPMENT AND TO SUBMIT APPLICATIONS FOR LAND USE AND ZONING CHANGES; AND PROVIDING AN EFFECTIVE DATE.
BE IT RESOLVED BY THE CITY COMMISSION OF THE CITY OF LEESBURG, FLORIDA:
THAT the City Manager is hereby authorized to acquire an appraisal of the subject property (see attached location map), to apply for land-use and zoning changes that will provide the appropriate designations for industrial use; and to prepare a Request-for-Bids that will determine the buyer for the property.
THAT the City Manager, prior to publication or the Request-for-Bids, will submit for Commission approval the appraisal of the property, the value of which will be used to set a “reserve price”. The reserve price shall be a price below which the Commission shall not be obligated to accept an offer for purchase. The highest offer from a qualified party that exceeds the reserve price will be the winning bidder.
THAT this resolution shall become effective immediately.
PASSED AND ADOPTED by the City Commission of the City of Leesburg, Florida, at a regular meeting held the __14th___ day of _January_____ 2008.