City receives offer for five acres of Gateway property

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The city of Blaine has received an offer for a five-acre commercial parcel that is owned by the city and located on the Gateway property, formerly the site of the Blaine Municipal Airport.

On August 16, Larry Leasure of the White-Leasure Development Company wrote to city manager Michael Jones, enclosing an offer to purchase the land for $950,000. According to its website, the Boise, Idaho-based company was formed in 1972 and specializes in the development of retail shopping centers, hotels and other projects.

“We are anxious to pursue discussions concerning the said purchase so that we can pursue serious discussions with some national and regional retail and hospitality tenants for the planned retail/commercial property,” wrote Leasure. “We strongly believe that we can bring retail and commercial users that are not presently in your community.”

The land sought by the White-Leasure Development Company is adjacent to a 2.5-acre plot of land that is currently the subject of negotiations between the city and Family Care Network (FCN), which hopes to build a new medical center there.

In his letter, Leasure wrote that his group is “very supportive” of the proposed medical facility. “If we are successful in pursuing a purchase agreement with the city, we would look forward to working cooperatively with the medical group,” he said.

Jones emphasized that the two proposed transactions (with FCN and White-Leasure, respectively) will not interfere with each other. “Both the FCN deal and the White-Leasure deal have the buyer and the seller mutually agreeing on the parcel configuration,” he said. “This means we stay in control of what land we sell, and they stay in control of what land they buy for things like shape, size and location. In two separate deals, we (the city and the buyer) have to agree on the property configuration.”

The White-Leasure offer was discussed in an executive session at the August 26 city council meeting. No action was taken following the executive session. Prior to the session, Jones described what would be discussed. “In regards to the sale of real property, we are limited to discussing factors affecting price, and we’ll be having discussions about those items,” he said.

Specifically, Jones said it remained unclear what the proposed uses of the site would be, “bearing in mind that all of the things that are allowed under zoning can occur there, and the city already has some limits on what the uses can be.” He also cited “the length of time in the feasibility period that’s in the proposal” and “the lost opportunities that could arise during that lengthy feasibility period.”

The current proposal would give the buyer 180 days to determine if the property is suitable for the buyer’s intended uses, and this “due diligence period” could potentially be extended by an additional 180 days.

Jones also cited “the unclear timing of development, when they would actually go to construction or what kind of commitment to a time frame there might be” as other factors affecting price.

In his letter to Jones, Leasure said his team “would appreciate an opportunity to visit with you, the mayor and city council at your first city council meeting in September.” According to Jones, representatives of the White-Leasure Development Company will be presenting at an open public meeting at the September 9 city council session.

Because the company’s real estate agent requested that the city provide a counteroffer before then, a special city council meeting took place on September 3 “to consider that,” said Jones. The special meeting consisted of an executive session after which no official action was taken.

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