Kyrene School District officials have signed off on a 77-year lease with developer ViaWest for the use of a 28-acre parcel of land along the I-10 between Chandler Boulevard and Ray Road in Ahwatukee.
Governing board members unanimously gave final approval to the lease, hailing the promise of an annual source of funds.
“I believe it will be April of 2022 that we should get our first check in the mail and I’m sure that would be very exciting,” General Counsel Jordan Ellel told them.
ViaWest plans to build three industrial buildings that will mirror three it owns on a parcel in Chandler that’s parallel to the Kyrene land.
The lease provides for monthly payments totaling $240,000 next year, then $800,000 annually for the following five years.
That annual total will rise to $900,000 after that for the next five years, then go up to $1.012 million annually and then go to $1.14 million a year with some adjustments in various years for the duration of the lease.
State law requires districts that sell or lease land to use the money for capital expenditures. Although Ellel had told the board last fall he hoped to confer with the state Attorney General on whether the money could be used for operational expenses, he made no mention of that at the board meeting.
Voters in 2013 gave the district permission to sell or lease the land, which had been purchased in the 1990s as a possible site for a school. Instead, Kyrene del Milenio in Ahwatukee was built in 2000 and the land has laid fallow ever since.
Kyrene governing boards that existed before any of the current members were in office had explored possible disposition of the land.
But the move gained momentum in the last two years.
Ellel noted that there had been considerable discussion of the disadvantages and advantages of selling the land as opposed to buying it.
Under the lease, the land could technically revert to Kyrene at the end of the lease, though presumably it also could be extended with negotiations.
This is the last piece of vacant land owned by Kyrene and one of two parcels that had been studied for possible sale or lease.
There had been discussion several years ago about selling the land at Kyrene and Warner roads in Tempe where district headquarters is located, but that never reached the point where it was given serious consideration.
Ironically, farther south on Kyrene Road near the Loop 202 Santan Freeway, Tempe Union owns a 49-acre parcel that the district’s board in 2017 pondered for a sale or some other revenue-generating option.
That land also had been bought in 1994 for a high school that never materialized.
Tempe Union sold a 63-acre parcel in Ahwatukee several years ago for $23 million that also had been once considered as a high school site. That parcel is now the new Palma Brisa gated community.
A previous Tempe Union board had discussed what to do with the Kyrene Road property but never moved beyond the discussion phase, partly because an adjacent parcel made it nearly impossible to just sell it outright.
The Kyrene land that the board approved for lease is zoned for industrial use, though some members of the Ahwatukee Foothills Village Planning Committee several years ago had hoped it would become the site of a hospital.
But no healthcare company ever expressed serious interest in the land.