Local News

Price of Wake School Site Doubles in Year

Posted February 9, 2007 6:42 p.m. EST

— The Wake County school system is prepared to pay $8.7 million for a school site in Apex that sold for less than half that amount 10 months ago.

The 108-acre tract south of Hume Olive Road, near the intersection of Evans Road, was sold to a group of investors last April for $4.1 million, or about $38,000 per acre. The school district agreed Tuesday to pay more than $80,000 an acre for the site for a future school, and the price tag concerns some county officials.

"Certainly there's a large difference there. Whether that's justifiable for us to go purchase that land for a school is something county commissioners will take a look at," said Tony Gurley, chairman of the county Board of Commissioners.

The investor group, called Apex Olive LLC, has ties to SAS, a Cary software company owned by Jim Goodnight. Goodnight and his wife were prominent supporters of the $970 million school construction bond that passed in November.

Developer Glenn Futrell, part of the Apex Olive LLC ownership group, said he and his fellow investors aren't taking advantage of the school district. Real estate prices in western Wake County appreciate rapidly, he said, adding that the group also did engineering work on the site for a subdivision.

"We were perfectly happy developing the land. The schools contacted us. We're not supposed to be stupid. We're not in the charity business. The problem is, the public doesn't understand," Futrell said.

Gurley conceded that finding land to build schools can get complicated.

"It's very difficult to find sites of an appropriate size. They have to be in the right location," he said.

Assistant Superintendent Mike Burris said Coldwell Banker reviewed 80 different parcels before recommending the Apex site for a new high school and middle school. While the cost of the property jumped sharply in recent months, he said the land is still less per acre than other parcels bought by Wake taxpayers.

County commissioners will make sure they understand the real estate market before the deal for the Apex land is approved, Gurley said.

"By spending basically double what was available 10 months ago, that just leaves less money for future purchases, and I know we need to make future purchases," he said.