By RAELYNN RICARTE
News staff writer
August 3, 2005
The quick turnaround on a sale of land for a Hood River college campus has sparked rumors of an “insider deal.”
But Teunis Wyers, attorney for Icon Holdings, LLC, said that speculation is totally unfounded. In fact, he said Robert Gilham was reluctant to sell the 13.5 acre site in the Heights that he was still in the process of purchasing.
The England native, who lives part-time in Hood River, had plans to develop a subdivision that would have been worth more than $3 million.
However, Gilham was informed that the college (CGCC), as a public entity, could condemn the property and buy it at a lesser rate.
He said at that point, he decided not to get caught up in legal wrangling and agreed to a sale. Gilham did request $375,000 more than he had paid for the property two weeks earlier.
He felt that was fair compensation for the time and money that he had spent to gain a major right-of-way to the site from 12th Street and Pacific Avenue.
“They basically made us an offer that we couldn’t refuse,” said Wyers.
Bob Cole, CGCC executive director of resource development, said Gilham was not threatened with condemnation, just informed about that possibility.
He said the final settlement was equitable at $1.3 million plus a share of the closing costs. The land for the new campus is located immediately west of 12th Street (Tucker Road) and adjacent to the Hood River Ford dealership. The property borders Indian Creek and has limited frontage along 12th Street.
“We all knew that condemnation was an option but not one we would have used unless he had asked an exorbitant price,” said Cole.
The purchase is contingent upon site inspections and other work to ensure the acreage is appropriate for development.
A due diligence period started on July 22 and the closing is set for Sept. 21.
The college selected the land in the Heights after reviewing 11 sites in Hood River over the past four years.
That process gained new urgency with the passage of the bond measure last November, and has been guided in part by the development of an academic master plan.
That study led by Dr. Susan Wolff, dean of instruction, will help determine infrastructure design in both The Dalles and Hood River.