KENDALLVILLE — East Noble School Corp.’s 35.6 acres on Sherman Street was purchased with the intent of becoming soccer fields, but that plan never materialized.
Now, the school district expects to recoup the money it spent to buy the land when it sells to a developer who is planning to establish a 70-unit residential subdivision.
The lot on Sherman Street just across from South Side Elementary has been for sale since 2016 without much interest until recently.
On Wednesday, the school board agreed to sell the land to BST Capital LLC, a developer who wants to plat a subdivision with 54 lots for single-family housing and 14 retirement-style villas.
According to online property records, East Noble purchased the land for $240,000 in January 2003 and it was originally being held as a possible off-campus soccer complex for East Noble High School, according to school officials.
“The property was originally purchased to develop soccer fields for the high school. However, several community members provided the school board with research that demonstrated the value of artificial turf on the high school football field. After additional research and extensive discussion, the school board then approved installation of the artificial turf in 2010,” Superintendent Ann Linson said.
After that, the district considered the site as a possible location for its bus garage, although that plan never advanced.
Then, as East Noble began to think about the future of East Noble Middle School, the ground was considered as a potential site for a new school. But as talks about the new middle school advanced, school officials first pitched the area on Drake Road on the west side of S.R. 3, which was narrowly voted down by voters in 2014, before coming back in 2015 with the current site on Drake Road in town.
Once the site of the new middle school was decided, the Sherman Street location had run out of possible uses for the school district.
“Following the approved referendum in 2015, the land was no longer needed. The land was then placed for sale in 2016,” Linson said.
On Wednesday, Chief Financial and Operations Officer Brian Leitch said he had a few calls now and then from people maybe interested in the land, but none got serious until he heard from Brad Griffith of BST last year.
Over the past three months in working with the school, city and county, all sides came to agreements that would pave the way for Kendallville’s first major residential development in more than 20 years.
After holding the land for 17 years, East Noble will only receive a small dividend on holding the land. BST will be purchasing the property for $250,000 and will pay all closing costs for the sale, Linson said.
Once completed, the funds from the sale will be deposited into the district’s operations account, which can be used for facility, maintenance and operational costs across the district.