Keller-Baartman Properties sent a letter to the Red Wing School Board last week declaring that the developers are withdrawing from negotiations and will not seek a purchase agreement for the Jefferson School property.
For months, the board and Keller-Baartman Properties have been negotiating the terms of the block-sized property, but differences over allowing the green space to be open to the public have soured the deal.
During an operations committee meeting Aug. 1, the members and administrators discussed the recent news.
Superintendent Karsten Anderson said he spoke with Keller-Baartman Properties owners this week to see if their minds had changed. The group told Anderson their position has not changed.
Jackie Paradis from School Management Services said during Thursday's meeting that district officials met with the city to discuss the possibility of converting the playground and ball field into a park. Keller-Baartman Properties was invited to attend, but couldn’t make it, according to Paradis.
Paradis said the city needs a half acre, at a minimum, to establish a park. There is enough space on that block while also meeting the licensing requirements for the Keller-Baartman Properties' proposed child care facility.
Paradis said the district could counter with selling the half acre to the city, then selling the remainder of the property to Keller-Baartman Properties and reduce the asking price by $100,000.
Pam Roe, the chair of the operations committee and vice chair of the board, said she has concerns about going through the request for proposal process again, worried the district will be back in this position months from now.
“The neighborhood has made it very clear that they want to keep some green space,” Roe said. “We’re in such a bind. I think it’s the right thing to do, and yet I know it’s going to detract buyers. But we don’t want any buyer that isn’t willing to negotiate with the city.”
Anderson would said he will try to contact Keller-Baartman Properties, hopefully, before the end of the week, and will suggest Paradis’ idea and a purchase agreement that wouldn’t have consideration for the green space.
The full School Board will discuss the potential Jefferson School sale at the Aug. 5 meeting at 7 p.m., at City Hall.