District sells Brown's house

Publication Date: Friday Aug 22, 1997

SCHOOLS: District sells Brown's house

Local couple purchases Southgate home for $737,000

If all goes well, by mid-September, the Palo Alto school district will be out of the residential real estate business. On Aug. 19, the school board approved the sale of the Southgate home of former Superintendent Jim Brown to Paul Groudin and Joanne Weiss for $737,000.

The home, at 1632 Mariposa Ave. in Palo Alto, was listed for sale on Aug. 8 at $749,000. On the weekend of Aug. 9 and 10, about 150 people, including local real estate agents, attended an open house.

The offer was made Aug. 13, and escrow is expected to close Sept. 11.

Groudin and Weiss, who have children in Palo Alto schools, are currently renting, said district Property Manager Rosemarie Bednar. As part of the sale, Groudin and Weiss agreed to accept the property "as is," although they have the opportunity to do their own inspection of the 1924 home.

The district is selling the house because it could get a higher return by investing its money elsewhere.

"(We'll be) getting our money back and frankly doing much better financially by investing the proceeds than we would if we were to try and rent it," said board member Don Way.

"We asked for what we hoped for in the best of all possible worlds. We were reaching for the most we could conceivably get," Way said.

Above the $737,000, the district will also get $5,000 back as a donation from the real estate firm Cornish & Carey.

The district ventured into real estate in 1992, when it bought the three-bedroom house from then-Superintendent Jim Brown. Brown and his wife bought the home for $692,000 when they came to Palo Alto from Lompoc in 1989 with a loan from the school district. In 1992, the Browns asked to transfer ownership of the house to the school district in exchange for canceling the outstanding loan.

When Superintendent Don Phillips was hired in February, he chose not to live in the home.

In March, the school board agreed to begin the process of selling the home, for a minimum bid of $749,000. By law, school districts are required to solicit written bids when selling any district property.

No bids were received by the May 2 deadline, so the school board decided to have the home sold by the firm of Cornish & Carey instead. The agents, Paly graduate Alan and Nicki Loveless, live right behind the house.

In 1989, the home was remodeled and a second floor added, making the home 2,400 square feet. The district repainted the exterior, upgraded the foundation for earthquake safety, and replaced a fence.

--Elizabeth Darling 

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