City council has decided to take what it can get for land in the Sarnia 402 Business Park.
Council agreed to sell a 1.67-acre plot to local developer Lou Longo for $95,000 on Jan. 21. Longo said he hopes to develop an office building for the financial institution Farm Credit Canada, which is looking to expand its presence in Sarnia.
But the offer, which amounted to $56,886 per acre, was well below the $70,000 to $85,000 an acre the land was appraised at just last April.
Coun. Mike Stark said the low price sets a dangerous precedent for other potential buyers.
“This piece of property, serviced as it is, located where it is, in fact should garner something close to the $85,000 per acre,” he said.
But Coun. Terry Burrell noted there’s been little demand for property in the business park, which is located on the south side of Highway 402 near the Airport Road interchange.
“That may be the market value (but) there’s no market,” he said, adding, “The more we can encourage people into that park the better off we are.”
Farm Credit Canada is a federal Crown Corporation based in Regina that provides financing, insurance and other business services to the agricultural sector.
It currently has a small office in Reece’s Corners. The single-story building Longo proposes for the business park would have 4,000 to 5,000 square feet of space.
The FCC has not yet selected a new location for its Sarnia office. That decision is subject to a tendering process, which has yet to be completed, said Trevor Sutter a senior consultant in media relations.
Coun. Bill Dennis Jr. said market value is what a buyer will pay and a seller will accept.
“Sometimes a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.”
Dennis and Burrell voted to accept the deal, along with councillors George Vandenberg, Dave Boushy, Nathan Colquhoun, Margaret Bird and Mayor Mike Bradley.
Stark and Coun. Brian White were opposed.
The land is just the fifth parcel sold in the 85-acre business park since the city acquired the property in 2003.
Longo said he hopes to break ground on the project later this year.