Villa Julie trying to buy Ravens' practice facility

City asking $6 million for 40-acre property in Owings Mills

April 28, 2004|By Laura Vozzella | Laura Vozzella,SUN STAFF

Villa Julie College has been talking with Baltimore officials about buying the city-owned facility where the Ravens practice after the pro football team moves to new quarters, city and school officials said yesterday.

Discussions have been going on for about a year and formal negotiations are expected to begin soon, officials said.

Comptroller Joan M. Pratt said the city recently told school officials what it believes is the fair-market value of the 40-acre site in Owings Mills: about $6 million.

Villa Julie had a lower price in mind -- about $2.5 million -- when the school first expressed interest in the property in June, said Glenda LeGendre, the college's marketing director

Both sides said they were optimistic that a deal could be reached on the property, at 11001 Owings Mills Blvd., about 6 miles from Villa Julie's main campus in Stevenson.

The Ravens are expected to move into a new practice facility elsewhere in Owings Mills this year.

"It's something we hope comes through," said LeGendre of the potential deal with the city.

Said Pratt: "They've always said they would purchase it at a fair-market value. We're looking forward to their buying it at the fair-market value."

A private school with an enrollment of about 2,250 full-time undergraduates, Villa Julie became interested in the site in June, when it started building 541 units of student housing and a community center on an adjacent parcel.

The school would use the athletic fields for lacrosse and soccer and would convert team office space into faculty offices or classrooms, LeGendre said.

A bill that would have authorized the proposed sale was expected to receive City Council approval Monday.

But the council, which had given tentative approval to the measure at a previous meeting, withheld final approval.

Council members wanted the final bill to specify the selling price, said Councilwoman Helen L. Holton, chairwoman of the council's finance committee, which held a hearing on the matter.

Once the council passes the bill, the sale would need approval from the city's Board of Estimates.

"The council's only role in this is through this legislation authorizing the sale," Holton said. "There's not an agreed-upon price. ... I don't think it would be very responsible for the council to say, `Oh, go ahead. Sell it.' Any sale of property that has come before the finance committee has always come with a price."

The Ravens' practice facility has been the source of dispute. In July 2001, Pratt complained that the National Football League team should pay more than the token $1 a year it had been spending for five years to use the former Colts' complex. She wanted the Ravens to pay $300,000 a year.

Two years ago, the Ravens agreed to pay $125,000 a year until the team built a new facility. Pratt said at the time that the team should have paid at least $200,000 a year.

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