At the beginning of a special school board meeting on Aug. 17, Teton School District Superintendent Monte Woolstenhulme unsealed four bids for the old Victor Elementary School property. As he and the district’s real estate agents reviewed the documents on-screen in the public meeting, there was a stir among viewers online when they realized that a Broulim’s representative had offered nearly double the asking price for the property.
The school district had put both the Victor school and the old district office and tennis courts in Driggs out to bid, but did not receive any offers for the Driggs property. The 80-year-old, 22,000-square-foot elementary school building sits on 2.5 acres in the heart of Victor on Center Street next to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints building. An appraisal set the value of the property at $340,000.
Three of the bids came in between $340,000 and $360,000, with proposals to build workforce housing, a community center or mixed-use commercial spaces. Mark Oswald, the vice president of Broulim’s, wrote in his brief letter of intent that the grocery store chain would pay $600,000 in cash for the property and build a “grocery with possible mixed use.”
The sale would be contingent on a rezone and city approval, the letter notes. The property is currently zoned for civic and institutional uses.
This is the third foray Broulim’s has made into Victor. In 2016 and then again in 2019, the owners applied for rezones on different properties within city limits and encountered administrative challenges as well as public resistance.
“We bid in good faith that we can provide something good for our Teton Valley customers,” company President Robert Broulim told the Teton Valley News. He did not wish to comment further on the possible sale.
Since the chain’s last attempt to gain a foothold in Victor, the city council passed an interim ordinance restricting non-residential buildings to a 15,000 sq. ft. maximum footprint, with the intention of giving the city time to update its comprehensive plan without large-scale development pressure.
That ordinance is set to expire at the end of September, but a permanent ordinance is already working its way through the review process. On Aug. 18 the Victor Planning & Zoning Commission voted to recommend raising the footprint limit to 20,000 sq. ft. The city council will hold a public hearing on the revised ordinance on Sept. 9.
Victor planning director Kim Kolner said that all of the entities that bid on the Victor school reached out to the city before making an offer. She pointed out that any of the projects would require a rezone.
“We would be happy to work with all of the applicants regarding their proposals,” she wrote in an email to the TVN.
She added that the city is drafting its updated comprehensive plan with hopes of an October adoption.
“The comp plan will be the guiding document for both the city and all future applicants,” Kolner said.
On Aug. 17 the school board agreed to pursue the highest bid, leaving the real estate agents to negotiate with the potential buyer and work through the specifics of the sale.
Mandy Rockefeller of Teton Valley Realty, who along with fellow real estate agent Tayson Rockefeller is representing the school district and facilitating the transaction, explained what the specifics would look like. She has sent a preliminary request to the city to determine whether the proposed contingency of a rezone and other approvals is viable. When she has more information on that, negotiations will begin on a purchase contract.
If the sale is not feasible, the school board will choose from among the other bids and restart the negotiation process.