Claremont Lincoln rescinds offer to purchase La Puerta property

For the second time in two years, a bidder on the La Puerta property has pulled its offer. Claremont Lincoln University recently contacted the Claremont Unified School District to say the deal was off.

“After conducting community engagement meetings with local residents, along with analyzing the needs and future growth of Claremont Lincoln University, the university decided not to pursue the purchase of the property,” Andrew Wilkin, director of marketing and communications for Claremont Lincoln University, related in an email. “The university continues to search the local vicinity for a permanent home within the city of Claremont and be a valued member of the community.”

CUSD Superintendent Jim Elsasser expressed concern over the failed sale.

“I am disappointed in losing this deal,” Mr. Elsasser said. “We need the sale of the property to take those one-time revenues and put them into improving our facilities. We have tremendous facility needs in this district.”

At a June 9, 2015 auction, the university offered CUSD $14.35 million for the nearly 10-acre parcel located at 2475 N. Forbes Ave. The school board accepted the bid at its June 18 meeting. Then, on July 23, the college held a community forum to gather input from the public on its proposed use of the site.

John Sather of the architectural firm Swaback Partners explained at the meeting that CLU would work to maintain a low-density and low-visual impact presence on the property. It was also revealed at that time that the university intended to flip La Puerta Sports Park, putting the college on Indian Hill Boulevard and moving the city sports fields to Forbes Avenue—a cost to be paid for by Claremont Lincoln. Neighboring homeowners raised concerns over disruption during construction, added traffic, noise and losing mountain views should buildings stand more than two stories.

The more than $14 million loss to the district in this sale follows a previously quashed earning possibility when, in November 2013, Brandywine Homes offered $18.9 million for the property. That deal fell through within a few months after criticism from neighbors over the number of homes planned for the site caused Brandywine to reneg its offer.

The immediate future of La Puerta remains unclear but, in the long term, CUSD will seek a new owner.

“We’re going to meet [Thursday night] with the board to talk about the property and what the next steps will be,” he said. “I don’t know if we’ll go right out to bid or wait to see what the market does. The board will make the decision based on the input of staff.”

The school board met Thursday, December 17. A report on that meeting will be included in future edition of the COURIER.

—Kathryn Dunn

editor@claremont-courier.com

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