SUSD heads toward contract negotiations in 44th Street property sale

(File photo)

The Scottsdale Unified School District appears to be making its first moves in attempting to sell the old district headquarters on 44th street in Phoenix.

For a piece of property abutting Arcadia High School, the district is taking a second stab at putting the property on the market and has had a purchaser — Hospice of the Valley — inquire about the sell.

During a Thursday, June 22, special meeting three of the five governing board members approved to move forward with a purchase proposal from Hospice of the Valley for $4.4 million. Governing Board member Allyson Beckham was absent from the meeting, while board member Kim Hartmann was absent and recused herself.

Ms. Hartmann says she recused herself due to her husband’s job, which includes consulting work for Hospice of the Valley. Ms. Beckham says she was simply absent and unable to call-in, and she did not recuse herself from the conversation.

The vote carried 3-0.

Located at 3811 N. 44th St. in Phoenix, the district-owned piece of property has been recently valued at $4.6 million, with an average of $30 per square foot, according to Superintendent Dr. Denise Birdwell.

The district had previously entered contract negotiations for the sale of the property, but citing zoning issues, those have fallen through, district officials say.

The plot size is reportedly 139,962 square feet, and its current year full cash value is $3,623,500, according to the Maricopa County Assessor’s Office.

The land was previously valued at about $27 per square foot, the superintendent says. Through work with local land brokerage firm, Nathan & Associates, Inc., SUSD now believes the land has more potential.

“We actually would have taken a loss — although early when I came on, I remember there was a discussion about we had received bids that were higher, bids that were lower, but because of the density of the high dollar values, we never went there as a district,” Dr. Birdwell explained June 22.

The location is the district’s former Phoenix-headquarters, near Indian School Road on 44th Street. It was first put on the market in May of 2015, SUSD Public Information Officer Erin Helm said in a June 28 prepared statement.

Dr. Birdwell says the biggest issue the district faces in selling this piece of land is avoiding a high-density purchaser.

“The biggest issue we face is a community issue — the city and us both face that issue together,” she said. “A lot of it has to do with density of potential buyers. The community did not want high-rise, high density condos, anything like that to be built.”

The purchaser is thought to be a good-fit for the community, Dr. Birdwell said.

“We believe it’s a good opportunity,” she explained to the governing board. “So you have a solid buyer, with a good price, with a good intent.”

A former purchase negotiation fell through following zoning issues, Ms. Helm said. It is zoned as R1-10, also known as single-family housing.

Additionally, the plot of land is said to include an environmental issue regarding an old print shop on the site, and the remediation that a previous buyer would have had to pay for, Ms. Helm says.

News Editor Melissa Rosequist can be reached by e-mail at or follow her on Twitter at

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