The owners of the land where the Lake Hall Schoolhouse sits are asking more than market value for their property, an issue which could make preserving the Reconstruction-era building difficult.
The preservation efforts of the schoolhouse off Lake Hall Road will come back before the Leon County Commission Tuesday. Last month, commissioners directed staff to explore purchasing a property along Thomasville Road that could provide access to the two parcels that the building straddles.
The cost to purchase the three properties would come to roughly $866,000 but the overall cost, for which there are no county funds yet allocated, could be as much as $3.3 million, according to a staff analysis. That would include property acquisition, restoration and site improvements to make the site accessible to the public.
A Thomasville Road property with a residence on it is listed for $425,000. But the two properties where the schoolhouse sits off a private, unpaved road are not listed for sale.
The owners of both have been approached about selling portions or all of their property to allow the schoolhouse to be preserved.
The owner of one, whose property line cuts across a corner of the building, is asking that the building be moved and be renovated elsewhere. If that is not an option, the owner is asking for $50,000 and for the county to build a privacy fence. The estimated value of the roughly 2,000 square feet is $2,800.
The owner of the other is not willing to sell just the schoolhouse and is asking $350,000 for her entire property. The Leon County Property Appraiser has estimated the property’s value at $110,528.
The efforts to preserve the 1870s schoolhouse have been mired in attempts to secure public ownership of the property where it sits so that it is eligible for grant funding.
Through the Friends of Lake Hall Schoolhouse, local historian Gerri Seay has worked to secure the site as a public amenity. At one point the county considered using eminent domain, where the government acquires property because of its value as a public asset, to acquire the school, but such moves often become mired in legal disputes.
The schoolhouse has been placed on the Local Register of Historic Places, which does provide some protection against development.
Seay’s attempts last year to secure grant funding fell short because the schoolhouse was not on a single parcel and was not owned publicly or by the Lake Hall organization. Last month, commissioners said they wanted to pursue the proposal in phases, the first of which is to acquire the properties surrounding the schoolhouse.
If you go
- What: Leon County Commission meeting
- When: 3 p.m. Tuesday
- Where: Leon County Courthouse, 5th floor
Contact Karl Etters at email@example.com or @KarlEtters on Twitter.
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