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San Diego Unified sells land beneath business parks

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The San Diego Unified School District is proceeding with more than $100 million-plus in, ongoing construction, but that includes selling parcels where business parks were built instead of schools.

The school district sold a total of 24.3 acres of land -- beneath the 288,000-square-foot, three-building Mira Mesa Distribution Center on Pacific Center Road in Sorrento Mesa, and the adjacent seven-building 141,209-square-foot Sorrento View Business Park -- to Gerard Alexander Property Holdings, of New York City, for about $41.79 million.

When planned for a school in the early 1980s, the site was known as the Porterfield property.

The business parks were completed by the R.G. Richardson firm of San Diego, in conjunction with now-defunct Great American Bank in 1989, but the district retained the title on the land.

A 55-year lease on the property, held by multiple entities, was established while the business parks were constructed in 1988.

This latest sale, completed Sept. 18, doesn't include either of the business parks themselves that are currently owned and managed by a limited liability corporation controlled by The Sickels Group.

Sickels is well known as an investor, commercial developer and as a past owner of The U.S. Grant Hotel.

The Sickels entities are expected to own and manage improvements above the new underlying ownership.

While the Sickels Group owns and operate business parks, the school district was garnering lease revenues -- with a $88 million deficit for the 2013-2014 school year -- at $1.9 million per year.

Assuming additional sales also go forward in Clairemont, Tierrasanta, Chula Vista and Mission Beach, the school district could receive $61 million toward the deficit, plus net another $36 million that would be tacked onto the budget for the next school year.

The school district also recently sold a 12.5-acre parcel originally planned for a school that was also beneath a Sorrento Mesa business park also on Pacific Center Boulevard for $20.8 million. SCG Pacific Center Blvd. LLC. of San Diego closed escrow on that asset last August.

As San Diego Unified divests itself of various properties, it continues to build many others.

These projects were bankrolled by the $2.1 billion Proposition S bond measure approved by voters in November 2008, and the $2.8 billion Proposition Z ballot measure approved by voters last November.

The monies include dollars for Jonas Salk Elementary School, located at the intersection of Flanders Drive and Parkdale Avenue in the western portion of Mira Mesa.

When completed, the projected $25.47 million school will have two-story classroom buildings, along with a multipurpose facility, special education building, shaded lunch area, joint-use hard-court area, grass field, reading and learning resource center, rooftop solar panels and an administration building.

The project also involves restoring vernal pools that harbor a colony of San Diego fairy shrimp.

The school, scheduled to formally open in September 2015, is designed to serve approximately 700 kindergarten through sixth-grade students. San Diego-based Soltek Pacific is the general contractor.

While the new school may be the largest line item out of $101.33 million in active district construction projects, there are others.

Work is ongoing at the Kroc Middle School's 20,600-square-foot, 400-seat performing arts center in Clairemont, projected to cost $19.7 million to complete.

The performing arts center is being built by Triton Construction and is slated for completion in March.

Another large ticket item in San Diego Unified's ongoing construction program is $17.63 million for a new two-story classroom building and the modernization of an existing classroom building at Knox Middle School in the Chollas Creek area of Southeast San Diego.

The general contractor of the Knox project is Suffolk-Roel Construction; completion is slated for Dec. 12.

Upon completion of these and about nine other sizable projects, San Diego Unified will have allocated about $283.36 million of the Proposition S and Proposition Z funds thus far.

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