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La Puerta property remains in limbo

Construction crews worked this week to tear down Claremont’s former junior high, La Puerta Intermediate School, which closed in 1978. The school was used off and on over the years to hold adult school classes, but has largely sat vacant since its closure.

At a June 9, 2015 auction, Claremont Lincoln University offered CUSD $14.35 million for the parcel located at 2475 N. Forbes Ave. The school board accepted the bid at its June 18 meeting. Then, on July 23, 2015, 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 2015 meeting that CLU would work to maintain a low-density and low-visual impact presence on the property. This promise did little to calm the fears of the school’s nearby homeowners, and CLU rescinded its offer.

A previous offer of $18.9 million for the site from Brandywine Homes in November 2013 deal fell through within a few months after criticism from neighbors over the number of homes planned caused Brandywine to back out.

In October 2017, the CUSD board approved a motion to file a waiver with the state that would allow the district to engage in a negotiated sale for the 9.7 acres of land.

The waiver, according to Lisa Shoemaker, CUSD’s assistant superintendent of business services would allow the district to sell the property to a bidder whose proposal would likely be acceptable to nearby neighbors and the Claremont City Council. Prior to approval of the waiver, the board was constrained to selling property to the highest bidder.

 “If there are 30 interested parties, 20 of which hope to build 80 homes on that property, even though they may be willing to bid a sufficient amount of funds for the property, we know that those projects are highly unlikely to come to fruition,” Ms. Shoemaker told the board at the October 19, 2017 meeting.

“And so we would not be required to accept those bids—we could negotiate a sale with somebody else who has the most potential for actually closing the sale for the property based on their proposed property.”

The COURIER will follow up with a more complete story next week.

—Kathryn Dunn

editor@claremont-courier.com