By Jesse Wood
July 8, 2013. In reference to the old Watauga High School site, Watauga County received a letter expressing a developer’s interest in purchasing the 75-acre property for $12 million on June 12.
However, that amount is not enough to pique the interest of Nathan Miller, chair of the Watauga County Board of Commissioners, who has made selling the old Watauga High School a priority during his tenure on the board.
“I am glad we still have interest, but it will have to be for more money than that,” Miller said. “I don’t know where the rest of the board [stands], but I wouldn’t vote for $12 million. In my opinion, the taxpayers need more than that.”
Miller added that after letting it be known that the price wasn’t right, he hasn’t heard back from representatives of Fuqua Acquisitions, which submitted the letter of interest and is based out of Atlanta.
The $12 million proposal includes a 7 percent commission for broker Robert Armstrong of KW Commercial. Armstrong is familiar with the property, having been involved in multiple offers on the old WHS in the past. He represented Georgia-based Sanctuary Management, which submitted a bid of $16.8 million on the old WHS in the fall of 2012 for a mixed-use development that proposed student housing along with a 35,000- to 45,000-square-foot grocery store. Also, Armstrong was part of a group that submitted a $27 million offer for the property about five years ago.
The recent letter of interest included no details as to what development was planned for the property and reiterated Fuqua Acquisitions non-binding interest in the property.
“Again, this letter is not intended to be binding as an option, contract or other agreement, or to create an express or implied obligation to continue negotiations with you in connection with the transaction contemplated herby,” the letter reads. “While it is necessary to protect our legal interests by expressly disclaiming any obligation to continue negotiations with you, we do hope that any continued negotiation will come to fruition for our mutual benefit.”
Watauga County is asking for $20 million for the old WHS property, which is roughly what Templeton Properties offered until the deal collapsed this spring.