Borough, seniors make deal on land

Posted: Monday, December 22, 2003

A Cooper Landing seniors' group and the Kenai Peninsula Borough have reached agreement on a contract that will sell borough land near Quartz Creek where a senior housing complex will be developed.

Several weeks ago, plans to acquire the 23.3 acres of land for a nominal $1 fee were squelched when borough attorney Colette Thompson determined giving the land to the Cooper Landing Senior Citizen Corporation Inc. for a nominal fee amounted to an illegal gift, because the borough lacked senior housing construction powers.

At the actual assessed value, however, the cost of the 23.3 acres was out of reach for the seniors' group.

About 28 percent of the Cooper Landing population is 60 years old or older and no other senior citizen housing exists within 50 miles of Cooper Landing, where many of the area seniors hope to live out their lives.

The cost hurdle appeared to stymie fruition of a years-long effort by Cooper Landing seniors to acquire land on which to build a senior center and senior housing but not for long.

Quick work by the borough administration, legal department, planners and assembly members, along with the Cooper Landing Senior Citizen Corporation Inc., resulted in a compromise.

While Ordinance 2003-41, passed Tuesday by the borough assembly, wasn't the no-cost deal they'd been working toward, it will allow the senior group to purchase some Quartz Creek acreage. The price tag is less than fair market value, but still considered high enough to avoid being an outright gift.

"The bottom line is we are very pleased with the assembly's action," said Jim Richardson, who often has acted as spokesperson for the seniors' group.

Richardson also extended kudos to assembly member Ron Long of Seward, borough Mayor Dale Bagley and the administration for helping to find a solution to the land-acquisition problem.

To lower the price to a point affordable by the seniors, senior corporation officials agreed to give up some rights associated with the property and to acquire over time less acreage than originally sought. Instead of 23.3 acres, the seniors' group will purchase 14 acres over time. Some 11.6 acres are considered developable.

Final agreement remains contingent on finding sufficient water on the property to allow development of the senior complex envisioned.

Under the terms of the contract, the senior corporation will buy the land piecemeal as they need it at $8,790 per acre. Originally, the borough assessor's office had valued the land (fee simple value) at $13,800 per acre.

However, with the seniors willing to give up certain property rights, the assessor was able to lower the per-acre cost.

The seniors would not have the right to subdivide or sell the land, and the land deed would be subject to a "senior restriction" limiting land use to construction and operation of senior facilities.

Further, some of the facilities, such as a conference room, would be available to the borough for its use free of charge as needed, say for public meetings.

Financing for each parcel will be offered at the prime rate on the date of closing, plus 2 percent.

Any portion of the 14 acres not purchased by the seniors after 30 years would no longer be available for sale under the ordinance.

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