Briarcliff School to go on the market; pending sale on agenda of upcoming Magnolia Community Club meeting

"It's probably going to be put on the market in about 60 days," said Ron English, deputy general counsel for the school district.
English will talk about the pending sale at the next Magnolia Community Club meeting in the Catharine Blaine School cafeteria, 2550 34th Ave. W., on Thursday, Feb. 13 at 7 p.m.
Briarcliff is surplus district property, and the proceeds of the sale would help replenish reserves used to pay the district's 2001-02 budget deficit.
The district has hired an adviser to help determine the best way to sell the property. While the district has obtained an appraised value, English said he won't reveal that figure at this point in the sale process.
"That's not something you do when trying to sell property."
The district is legally required to sell Briarcliff for at least 90 percent of its appraised value, according to English. A number of potential buyers have already contacted the district, English noted.
"They appear to be mostly developers," English said, although he was not prepared to offer any names.
However, the News learned that Heartland is one of the developers eyeing the property. Heartland is the company developing the site of the old Children's Orthopedic Hospital Convalescent Home, at 4646 36th Ave. W. on the edge of Kiwanis Ravine.
Mark Angelillo, vice president of Heartland and a Magnolia resident, said that his company intends any project on the property to fit in with the surrounding homes.
"We want to build single-family development to be compatible with the neighborhood. It is very much our interest to build something that looks like it's been there for a while."
Lindsay Brown hopes so. She is the president of the Magnolia Community Club and her family happens to live on property they own abutting the Briarcliff grounds.
"As a neighbor, I think the general community feeling would be that they would like to see something that fits in, something regular folks could afford," Brown said.
The property is zoned for construction of single-family dwellings on lots no smaller than 5,000 square feet, English confirmed.
Victor Barry, vice president of the Magnolia Community Club, said some neighbors have mentioned they don't want 39th Avenue West, currently blocked by Briarcliff, to be extended all the way through the property to serve a new development. Brown confirmed that she had heard similar worries from residents along 39th Avenue West.
"But I think there are artful ways to put the road through on a serpentine to keep traffic from rushing through the neighborhood," Brown said.
Barry mentioned that some Magnolians living near Briarcliff view the building as "an eyesore, a fire trap, and it needs to be developed." Brown agreed, citing graffiti plastering the building and youngsters frequently breaking into the school.
"I don't want my son to walk across the school yard alone. It's kind of isolated."
Before the Briarcliff site can be sold, however, Brown noted that a property encroachment issue must be resolved. Brown and several other neighbors whose property adjoins the school site have been using their property all the way up to what appeared to be the edge of the Briarcliff acreage, a fence around its playground. It turns out, though, that the school site actually extends beyond the fence.
Brown expressed concern that the trees and vegetation at the edges of the Briarcliff site, which are now a buffer between the old school and its neighbors, might be cut down. She is also worried about the fate of the 60-foot-tall copper beech tree, Magnolia's first designated heritage tree, on her property.
"It's on my property by about an inch, but the branches go about 20 feet into the school's property," Brown said. "I just hope the developer will be sensitive to some of these issues."

Editor Maggie Larrick can be reached at
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