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Is third time the charm for T.G. Field?

By Richard Yeakley
Jan. 15, 2014 at 11 p.m.

For sale (again): historical Longview ISD structure, possibly cheap.

LISD trustees are considering putting two downtown properties for sale without a minimum bid after Casa de Oracion, a Spanish-language Assemblies of God church, backed out of buying T.G. Field Auditorium and after the LEAD Academy failed to draw a bid this fall.

An agenda item is planned to go before the school board next month.

The auditorium, LEAD Academy and Dade Center were previously placed for sale after an Aug. 12 decision by the Longview ISD board of trustees.

According to Assistant Superintendent Lynn Marshall, Casa de Oracion realized it would be unable to pay for the ongoing upkeep at T.G. Field and backed out of the purchase, forfeiting $70,000 earnest money.

"They forfeited their earnest money; however, we still have a building and that property, so we we're kind of back to where we were," Marshall told the board. "That being said, we need to devise a plan to dissolve that property, along with LEAD Academy, either through trying again to sell them both or abate them and demo them, and frankly spend several more dollars in that process."

A representative from the church was not able to be reached for comment this week.

Marshall asked Longview ISD trustees to try one more time to sell the buildings, but not to place a minimum bid on them.

"Frankly, it would be my position that we do that, to see if we could get a buyer for both properties even if it is less than what the appraised value is, so we don't have to put more money into those properties," Marshall said.

The cost to remove asbestos from and demolish the building could be about $500,000, he said.

Marshall checked with lawyers who said that because the district had tried to sell the properties for the appraised values, they could now sell them for less.

Bids for the three buildings were opened Oct. 29 with Casa de Oracion, which meets on West Birdsong Street, offering to pay $700,000 for the auditorium.

The minimum bid for the 27,263-square-foot building on about two acres was $693,000. The building is at 400 N. Second St.

At the time, pastor Agustin Campos said the congregation needed the building because it had run out of room in its current home.

Trustees told Marshall they would be willing to send the old LEAD Academy and T.G. Field Auditorium back out for bids without a minimum purchase cost, and an agenda item to that effect should go before the board when it meets next month.

The old Longview High School opened in November 1932 - the year when Longview ISD moved into Class A for the first time, according to a Longview Daily News article from that year.

School officials have said proceeds from the sale of old Longview ISD buildings are being used to pay down bond debt early.

The properties originally went up for sale in 2012.

Blessings from Heaven Ministries, which was the supposed buyer on the three properties in March 2012, failed to close on the transactions by the deadline and forfeited the sale.

At the time, the district was asking a $5 million minimum bid for the former Longview High School and T.G. Field Auditorium, about four times its $1.2 million appraised market value.

The LEAD Academy and Dade Center are now at the former Foster Middle School on Green Street.

Rebeca Cooper, the district's director of research, planning and accountability, who along with her husband purchased the former Dade Center in the same concealed bid process for $149,500, said Monday they had closed on the property.

Cooper added architects had been consulted to help determine a plan to help renovate the building to rent as office space.



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