Purchase or condemnation: SHSU wants $650,000 Maalouf property

The Huntsville Item reports (Aug. 11) that SHSU is threatening to condemn an abandoned Military Reserve Building on Sam Houston Avenue if the winning bidder, Tarek Maalouf of Maalouf Properties in Huntsville, does not agree to sell it the land:
Texas State University System Vice Chancellor Fernando Gomez sent a letter dated Monday, Aug. 5, to City Attorney Leonard Schneider and Maalouf’s attorney Lanny Ray notifying both parties of the university’s intention to acquire the land, either through purchase or condemnation.

Maalouf offered $650,000 — $50,000 over the city’s asking price — for the land and abandoned Military Reserve Building at 2257 Sam Houston Ave. He met the city’s June 17 bid deadline, and the Huntsville City Council accepted his bid July 2. Maalouf, according to the city, now has a contract for the sale of the property and has paid a 5 percent escrow fee.

But SHSU did not make an offer during the city’s call for bids and attempted to persuade the city, in a June 28 email sent to Mayor Mac Woodward and City Manager Matt Benoit, to cancel any bid for the property.

State law allows SHSU to condemn the property through “eminent domain to acquire for the use of the system universities the lands necessary and proper for carrying out their purposes,” according to Texas Education Code, Sections 95.30 and 95.31 and the provisions of Property Code, Chapter 21.

The charter requires that the city advertise for bids on any property it intends to sell for two consecutive weeks. The city published legal notice for an invitation of bids in The Huntsville Item on May 30 and June 6. Hooten asked June 5 for the appraised value of the land and was given that information by the city, Schneider says, and the bid period expired June 17.

"No bid was received from Sam Houston State University. No formal offer in writing stating an amount to buy the property has ever been received from the university,” Schneider writes. “The city has not received a written appraisal from the university, has not received a bona fide offer in writing from the university, nor has the city been notified that the governing body of the Texas State University System has authorized condemnation by the university at a properly noticed meeting.”

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