by Kurt Hanson
This past summer the school attempted to obtain land and to expand its campus with a bid on the High School for Law Enforcement and Criminal Justice next door.
To successfully gain this real estate would greatly improve the size of our campus.
This additional land would add much needed classroom space and allow more students to come to our school.
The land would also give access to more sports field that our land locked campus has no room for. It would help expand the campus as whole because we are in such need of space.
“The acquired land would insure that St. Thomas would be here for another 113 years,” President Rev. Kevin Storey C.S.B. “Our footprint is tight right now, and we could use more practice fields, science labs and drama facilities.”
Over the summer there was bidding war for the property between St. Thomas and a private real estate developer. LECJ sits on an 11-acre plot of prime real estate for both the school and the developer.
There were only two bids above the $40 million asking price. AV Dickson and St. Thomas both own property next to the school.
The reasons for buying the land greatly differ between the two parties.
AV Dickson wants develop the site for retail, living or office space. AV Dickson also claimed that it would benefit taxpayers if they were the winning bid. This is because St. Thomas has a religious affiliation and a school receives tax concessions and would not have to pay property taxes.
Both bids were turned down by HISD.
Many people were disappointed that St. Thomas did not receive the winning bid because of our current history at 4500 Memorial. We had the right intentions for buying the land and would have benefited the school immensely.
We could have added much more students and had a broader landscape throughout the Houston community. Not everything can go in our favor, though.
HISD’s attorney claimed that both bidders violated the district’s mandatory silent period by lobbying district officials during the bidding process.
Both bidders claimed that this was not mentioned or included in the bid documents and had absolutely no idea that they were violating any rules.
“The way the situation was handled was awkward, but they had the right to handle it the way the see it most fit,” Storey said.
Although we did not receive the winning bid this time, the administration does plan to bid on the land again.
The land will come up for sale again October 16, where St. Thomas and other bidders will place their respective offers for the land.
St. Thomas deserves to receive the winning bid because of our effect on the community and the people of Houston. The land would add much needed land for landlocked school.
The St. Thomas community needs this land to help it grow and expand, making a bigger impact in the Houston area and providing more opportunities for young men to attend STH.