UPDATED: Millikin Appraisals From CH-UH, Mosdos Released
Appraisers working with the CH-UH School District assessed the property at $770K while the appraisers working with Mosdos Ohr Hatorah believe the property is worth $600K.
Updated 5:15 p.m. Wednesday
The Cleveland Heights-University Heights City School District released the new appraisal of the former Millikin School Tuesday, and appraisers believe market value of the property is about $770,000.
Charles M. Ritley Associates conducted the new appraisal for the district, and wrote that the school building and surrounding land at 8.2 acres is valued at $740,000. The Beachwood company determined the additional 2.6 acres of land, which includes green space and the Millikin Barn, formerly on the Severance Longwood Estate, is valued at $34,000.
An assessment from 2005 conducted by David E. Walter & Associates indicated the now vacant property at 1700 Crest Road was worth $2.4 million, said Superintendent Douglas Heuer in a statement released in February.
Mosdos Ohr Hatorah, a K-12 private Orthodox Jewish school, has expressed interest in the property and sparked the controversy over Millikin’s worth. The school has offered the district $550,000, which Heuer initially said was too low based on the 2005 assessment.
“… we remain firmly committed to ensuring this community receives fair value for its investment. There is simply no reason for the district to sell this property at an unfairly low price,” he said.
Mosdos officials also conducted their own updated appraisal, and appraisers from Charles P. Braman & Co. believe the value, if the building is used as a school, is $600,000.
Alan Rapoport, a former Cleveland Heights mayor and an attorney representing Mosdos, said people must keep in mind that an appraisal is an opinion.
“Appraisals can give you some guidance. We definitely have to examine the report in more detail,” he said. “You sort of have to look at not only the expert’s opinion, but you have to look at the facts on which the opinions are based.”
Rapoport said he met with the district’s attorney today, and they traded appraisals.
“Each party has to digest the information … We’re having a more intelligent conversation around facts.”
CH-UH School Board President Karen Jones said in a written statement that board members are carefully reviewing the appraisal and will meet in an executive session soon to discuss the options for the property.
"This particular appraisal is based on the value of current property as is, and under current zoning. That is significantly different than the conditions that were placed on the appraisal in 2005," Jones said. "We are determined to find a solution that benefits the immediate neighborhood and the community as a whole."
The board had put the property up for sale in 2006 when the school closed and received four offers, Heuer said. The highest was $500,000.
In addition, the board made formal requests for proposals in 2009 and 2010, but no one sent an offer, he said.
A group of residents who live in the Millikin School neighborhood revived the Millikin issue when they told the CH-UH School Board at its Feb. 7 meeting that they wanted the property to remain a school, arguing it would significantly improve the neighborhood, increase property values and attract new residents. Supporters of Mosdos at Millikin continued to speak at meetings.
They had heard the district and the City of Cleveland Heights were considering leasing the space to a call center. At that time, Economic Development Director Howard Thompson said a company was interested, but didn't provide more details.
“We’ve been approached by someone from outside the state about utilizing the facility,” Thompson said in February. “There’s a great deal of jobs involved with it.”
City Councilman Jason Stein, whose children attend Mosdos, wants the CH-UH School Board or district to make its intentions known before the meeting among Cleveland Heights, University Heights and the board Monday.
“Until the school board makes its decision public, it’s difficult to close any other school buildings in Cleveland Heights or University Heights,” Stein said, referring to the facilities master plan proposal that calls for closing Noble, Gearity and Fairfax elementary schools. “I feel that those who have supported returning Millikin as a community asset are validated.”
Stein also challenged the district's interpretation of the old appraisal at a board meeting, suggesting that at that time, the building was really valued at $874,400, as long as the property would be used as a school.
Now that the new appraisals are ready, Stein said he's ready to move on.
"It’s time to move forward and do the right thing for the schools, and for the city and the community."