UNION CITY -- New Haven Unified has sold a former school property for more than $14 million, bolstering the district's coffers and illustrating further that the region's once-dormant real estate market is rebounding.
The five-member board of education approved the deal June 18, after it was brokered by Dutra-Cerro-Graden, a Hayward real estate firm.
Pulte Homes agreed to purchase the eight-acre property that once housed Cabello Elementary School, paying a price well above initial estimates of $10 million. The Michigan-based developer plans to build 46 single-family residences on the parcel at 4500 Cabello St., near Regents Boulevard, officials said.
The site's size originally was nine acres, but the school district donated about an acre to Union City, said Dominic Dutra, CEO of Dutra-Cerro-Graden. That extra acre will create a buffer between the planned housing and Veterans Park, an adjacent recreation area offering picnic benches, tennis courts and sports fields.
Pulte Homes is in the earliest stages of developing the land. First, the developer must submit its plans to Union City officials for approval, and likely will have outreach meetings to get more community feedback. Ground is not expected to be broken on the property until sometime in 2015, Dutra said.
The Cabello campus, closed since 2007, was sold to offset the district's budget woes, New Haven Unified spokesman Rick LaPlante said.
The state's budget crisis hurt school districts throughout the state but, even as the economy now shows signs of life, it will take time for those fiscal wounds to heal, LaPlante said.
"Years of cuts took such a toll and ripped so much from the budget that the recovery process will take us at least a couple of years," he said. "Now, the district is, like many districts, getting more money from the state, but we're still behind the eight ball a little bit."
New Haven schools received significant help in December, when they were awarded more than $29 million in federal funding called Race to the Top grants. That will fund the purchase of laptops, tablet computers and cameras for students, as well as aid programs for at-risk pupils and provide training for teachers.
That, along with the recent property sale, can only help a school district that less than a year ago had slashed school library hours and other basic services.
"The sale of Cabello will help the district tread water until things get better, which it looks like it's going to," LaPlante said.
Contact Chris De Benedetti at 510-353-7011. Follow him at Twitter.com/cdebenedetti.