Local governments, nonprofits given first chance to buy land

In an effort to be a good neighbor, Washington State University has altered its policy for selling property.

After hearing concerns from citizens and governments next door to WSU real estate, Business Affairs developed a plan to give those parties a first right to purchase land, said Mel Taylor, director of special projects for WSU’s Business Affairs.

The policy was discussed at a meeting in early September at the WSU Puyallup Research & Extension Center. Representatives from WSU’s Business Affairs and the College of Agriculture and Home Economics presented the plan to residents, nonprofit organizations and legislators.

The purpose was to familiarize different stakeholders with the process that will take place when WSU officially puts a 40-acre plot of land on the market. This property is part of an 800-acre area known as the Puyallup Station.

The new policy provides governments and nonprofit organizations the first chance to purchase property offered for sale. Before now, no procedure existed.

Initially, the policy stated that the buyer must come up with the means of payment within 30 days, or else the property would be released for public purchase. After hearing concerns from the approximate 100 attendees at the September meeting, WSU decided to amend it, allowing governments and nonprofit organizations 30 days to submit proposals to WSU stating their purchase plan and to get their finances in order.

WSU can accept or decline the proposal.

A potential buyer’s other option is to execute a purchase and sale agreement with the university and pay a 5 percent earnest money deposit.

“Most people (at the meeting) widely accepted the policy except for the timeline of purchasing the land,” Taylor said. “And now that has been addressed.”

After the land has been surveyed and appraised, governments, conservationists and nonprofit organizations will have 30 days to show interest and purchase it at a value established by WSU. After that, it would be offered to the public and most likely would be sold to the highest bidder.

The policy was fashioned to give locals a chance to preserve green spaces, Taylor said.

“We are concerned about WSU’s mission,” Taylor said. “It’s our duty to maintain the quality of WSU.”

Business Affairs was contacted by the College of Agriculture and Home Economics to market and sell the 40-acre property.

“We don’t go around and pick random parcels of land,” Taylor said. “We are advised of pieces of land that CAHE deems not to be utilized to their fullest.”

Selling the Puyallup property will help address budget shortfalls and provide money for more research and academic projects. The land has been deemed surplus, and similar research can be performed elsewhere.

“We’re actively managing WSU’s real estate assets,” Taylor said.

The plot of land in Puyallup is currently being surveyed and appraised. It will probably be between one and three months before it goes on the market, Taylor said.

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