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Zionsville, school district make $5.7M land deal with Dow

November 14, 2012

Zionsville Community Schools and the town of Zionsville are teaming up to purchase and develop a prime piece of real estate owned by Dow Chemical Co.

The cash-strapped school district said Tuesday that it plans to use funds remaining from a 2005 bond issue to buy 126 acres for $5.7 million from Dow. The company’s Dow AgroSciences LLC division is located south of the property at 106th Street Parkway east of Zionsville Road.

Under the proposal, which needs to be approved by both the school and town boards, the school district will use 10 acres to build a warehouse and maintenance facility, which the district said it intended to do in 2005 until the economy derailed the project.

The town, in turn, will take title to the remaining property and subdivide it for commercial development. It will install underground utilities and make payments to the school district through 2028 on its portion of the property, resulting in no net cost to the school district.

“This partnership is a creative way to benefit taxpayers while expanding assessed valuation by creating a market-ready economic development opportunity, said Dax Norton, executive director of the Boone County Economic Development Commission, in a prepared statement.

The Zionsville school district has been hit by a double-whammy in recent years: The introduction of property-tax caps and a new school-funding formula that favors districts with a significant commercial-property tax base, something Zionsville sorely lacks.

In addition, the district’s annual debt service payments were scheduled to rise just as the housing-market meltdown drove down tax revenue.

Last May, Zionsville voters approved a $4.7 million tax increase to avoid teacher layoffs.

Dow was unwilling to subdivide the tract into smaller parcels, which made the purchase too costly without the agreement between the school district and the town, the school district said.

And several business owners have scoped out the property in recent years but passed because it was too costly to purchase as a single parcel, town officials said.
 

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