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Duluth School Board agrees to sale of six Rockridge lots

Six lots on the former Rockridge Elementary School property have been sold, but a large portion of the property — including the school building — remain for sale more than three months after a sale of the entire property fell through.

The Duluth School Board unanimously authorized on Tuesday the sale of six lots, at a total cost of $100,000, on the west and north of Norwood Street.

The buyer, Ronald Guillicks, already owns property adjacent to the lots, and he intends to hold the lots as part of his property, said Kerry Leider, the district's property and risk manager. The district expects the closing on the lots to take place in 60 to 90 days, Leider said after the meeting.

The entire school property totals 18.5 acres below Hawk Ridge in Duluth's Lakeside neighborhood. A sale of the property fell through in July when developer Aaron Schweiger pulled of a purchase agreement to buy both Rockridge and the former Morgan Park Middle School property for $1.2 million, stating that "the property was too expensive to develop" at the low density wanted by the neighbors.

The rest of the Rockridge property remains for sale and will likely be sold off in parcels, Leider said. The six lots comprise about half the property to the west of the school building. The lots to the north of the building, near Idlewood Street and zoned for residential housing, remain for sale, Leider said.

When it comes to the school building, Leider said the land surrounding the school building will need to be purchased for the building to be redeveloped according to zoning requirements. The city of Duluth rezoned the property to residential-planned — which allows up to 30 units in the existing 30,000-square-foot building — earlier this year to help the property sell after neighbors were concerned with the potential for a high-density building to be constructed on the property.

The school district will likely consider selling the former Central High School property in parcels also, Leider said. A $10 million agreement was reached in the sale of the high school, but developers Harbor Bay Real Estate Advisors pulled out in June due to "extraordinary" development costs.

"It's just very difficult for a developer to buy a large property like that," Leider said.