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District could swap land for apartments

November 23, 2018

A strip of land on Swanson Avenue in the downtown Lake Havasu City area is at the center of a year-long discussion between the governing board of the Lake Havasu Unified School District and developer Mayer Akntarzad.

The school district owns a narrow vacant lot and Akntarzad wants it. He would like to add the 50-foot by 250-foot lot to neighboring parcels he owns and build a housing complex on the joined properties.

The land is situated across the street from ASU Havasu’s campus. The university campus previously housed Daytona Middle School, which the district shuttered several years ago.

The proposed land swap was discussed at length at Tuesday evening’s school district governing board meeting. It was unanimously decided to postpone a decision until the board’s Dec. 18 meeting. It will also be discussed at the board’s work session at 4 p.m. Dec. 11.

The board would like to attach a memorandum of understanding to the land swap that would reserve a portion of the proposed housing units for new teachers moving to Havasu to be employed by the school district. Rents continue to rise in Havasu. Being able to offer affordable housing to new teachers is a recruiting tool for the district.

It was hoped that the memorandum’s language could be refined by the time the board meets Dec. 18.

The new parcel which the district would receive is in the vicinity of the housing project. That seemed to appeal to board member Pat Rooney.

“Anytime you have development…it’s going to enhance the value of the lot that’s traded,” he said.

Real estate agent Amber Hoffman presented a preview of what developer Akntarzad had in mind for the housing project. At five stories tall, it would have 18 units per floor, for a total of 90. They would be carved into studios, one-bedroom and two-bedroom units.

This news took some board members by surprise. Previous discussions entailed building dormitory-style housing, except for the district’s teacher-dedicated units.

“This had been presented as dorms, but now we’re talking apartments,” said board President John Masden.

All board members mentioned in one fashion or another that the school district is highly interested in projects that improve the quality of life and progress in Havasu. But they don’t want to rush into a decision that would negatively impact the school district in some unforeseen way.

“We only have so much land for the district. How can we benefit from it?” asked board member Nichole Cohen about the land swap.

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