SHSU Declines Land Donation

The Item had a follow-up on July 12 to their earlier story (Jul. 2) regarding property that would have been used for SHSU's ROTC program:
SHSU rejected a property donation that would have moved the university’s ROTC program near FM 2821 and Quality Boulevard.  SHSU vice president Al Hooten said in an email Friday the property is “not within the university’s future growth areas per our Campus Master Plan Update,” which was approved by the Texas State University System Board of Regents in February.

Tarek Maalouf of Maalouf Properties in Huntsville offered a free share of his 57 acres behind the Community Service Credit Union located on FM 2821, but Hooten informed Maalouf’s attorney Lanny Ray on Wednesday that the university would not accept the offer.

Both Maalouf and the university in recent weeks showed interest in land occupied by the Army Reserve Building on Sam Houston Avenue. Hooten requested June 28 that the Huntsville City Council reject all bids on the property because the site had been included in the university’s new plan to revamp the ROTC program and offer services to veterans.

Maalouf was the only one to bid on the property before the deadline, offering the city of Huntsville $650,000, which was $50,000 more than the original asking price.

Maalouf then offered to donate land that he did not consider prime real estate for commercial development. “I would love to give some of my 57 acres that I have in town to Sam Houston to build an ROTC building,” Maalouf said at the July 2 council meeting. “I’m all for it. So please, if it ever becomes a plan at Sam Houston that the city wants to work with, count me in as a developer. I would love it.”

Maalouf said university officials also seemed to have a misunderstanding about his intended donation — whether it was just land or if Maalouf was also going to provide building construction. Before it was made clear the offer was strictly a land donation, Maalouf said, the university seemed interested.

It is unclear how SHSU will continue with its plans for ROTC. The Campus Master Plan Update does not specifically mention the Army Reserve Building property, but the development framework plan highlights the area as “an additional development opportunity to meet future demands.”

SHSU has seen a spike in veteran students and children of veterans enrollment through the growing popularity of the Hazlewood Legacy Act — a tuition exemption put in place for discharged or separated Texas veterans and their eligible dependent children and spouses.

In the 2009, there were 137 Hazlewood students at SHSU, which resulted in $437,000 in tuition exemptions.

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