- Associated Press - Thursday, October 16, 2014

OXFORD, Miss. (AP) - The Oxford School District has received some multi-million-dollar bids on several tracts of land, totaling just over eight acres.

The school board is having the property assessed for rezoning.

The sale of the land could ultimately result in a major financial windfall for the school district, but it might also require the district to relocate the C.M. Scott Center, the district’s school program for students with special needs.

Oxford schools Superintendent Brian Harvey said the board approved a professional services contract with Slaughter and Associates to aid in the process of getting all the advertised tracts rezoned.

“Steps include, but are not limited to, evaluating the city’s land use plan and considering options for potential rezoning while evaluating surrounding areas,” Harvey said.

Slaughter and Associates will be involved in assessing the property for rezoning and the rezoning process up until the sale of the property, Harvey said.

“We are hoping for the zoning that would allow us to maximize the asset that is in our possession,” he said. “I cannot speculate on what plans they might have other than what they included in their bid.”

The majority of those who submitted the six bids are seeking some form of residential zoning. Most of the bids already submitted indicate that the developer plans to construct some form of multi-unit residential and/or mixed-use project on the land.

Harvey said the district was originally approached about selling the one acre closest to Jackson Avenue. However, once the district saw the high amount offered for the property, school leaders thought it would be better for the district if they took a more comprehensive approach.

“We chose to solicit bids for this parcel of property,” he said. “Once we received the bids, the amount, approximately $2.2 million, prompted us to evaluate the value of the property while considering the future needs of all of the property and buildings on that block.”

Those bidding on the larger eight-acre parcel submitted offers on a variety of development options on a variety of land sizes, ranging from two acres to eight acres. The offers for the different options ranged from $100,000 for the smallest parcel to $20 million for the largest.

The sale of the larger piece of property would allow the board to consider future projects much sooner than otherwise possible, but no specific discussions have taken place, Harvey said.

“Upon receiving the first bids on the high school and having to cut 25 percent of what was originally proposed to bring the project back within budget, the district would be in a position to reconsider those programs and the space that would house those programs,” he said.

Five of the six bids include options for the district to lease the Scott Center for a minimum of one year.

Harvey said if the property were sold, the district would reconstruct the Scott Center on another property already owned by the district.

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Information from: Oxford Eagle, https://www.oxfordeagle.com

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