Brokers’ perseverance pays-off for Douglas County school kids

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Brokers’ perseverance pays-off for Douglas County school kids

FSIR Broker – Wanda Ford

Sometimes the most profitable real estate sales don’t involve a dollar amount.  That was the case when Fuller Sotheby’s International Realty (FSIR) broker Wanda Ford teamed with Barbara McKellar of Commercial Advisors and relied on their determination, resolve and good timing to complete a deal that has provided an outdoor education center to thousands of Douglas County School students.

Barbara was approached by the proprietors of the property (then known as the Griffith Center for Children) to sell the 100 acres of pristine land, complete with 50,000 square feet of administrative buildings, cabins, an indoor riding arena and a six-classroom school building.  The initial thought was to attract interest from another commercial user, such as a youth camp or church camp, but it was quickly realized that commercial users would not be permitted to purchase the property per new zoning codes instituted by the County, due to a lack of sustainable water into the future.  Barbara approached Wanda and suggested teaming up to try to sell the property to a residential user.  But in the end, no one wanted 50,000 square feet of buildings for residential ownership. Rather than give-up and move-on, Barbara and Wanda took it upon themselves to help find a solution.

The pair scheduled a meeting with Douglas County, to see if there was a way to work through the water restrictions. Douglas County Manager Doug DeBord was part of that meeting, and shared the fact that one entity that could purchase the property, and work through the water restrictions, would be a government interest.  The challenge would be finding a government interest ready and willing to invest in the property and able to put it to good use.  Several ideas were discussed, including various ways Douglas County could put the property to use (such as staff retreats or SWAT training for the sheriff’s department).

Zipline at New Outdoor Education Center – Photo Credit – Lindsay Pierce

Following the meeting with Wanda and Barbara, the County contacted the Douglas County School District.  The school district was in need of a better location for their outdoor education classes, because the costs associated with field trips (to places such as Rocky Mountain National Park) were becoming to be too much for families and the district.  Unless a solution could be found, Douglas County Schools were being faced with the decision of cancelling their outdoor education courses.  The Griffith Center property became the perfect solution, and Douglas County closed on the property in December 2011 and donated it to the school district.

On August 27, 2012, Douglas County School District opened its fall outdoor education program and welcomed its first wave of students.  Summit View Elementary fifth and sixth graders ate, slept and explored at the property which is just south of Larkspur.  During the 2012 – 2013 school year, more than 1,500 students are expected to visit the center, taking full advantage of all the property has to offer. Because of the perseverance of Wanda and Barbara, a solution was found and a difficult real estate transaction has become a “priceless” entity for the County, its school district and its students.

 

 

 

 

 

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