walked away from the millions of additional dollars it would have received if it had sold the property to neighboring Bush School.
Recently, there has been speculation by some opponents of the sale that the FAME purchase could be overturned. The Seattle Weekly was the first of the media outlets to pick up the story, followed by KING-TV on its 11:00 broadcast last night. The basis for the hope of re-opening the MLK school-sale decision is the fact that then-District official Fred Stephens, boss of the now-notorious Silas Potter, was heavily involved in FAME at the time the District agreed to sell MLK to the Church. According to the Weekly, Stephens' father was a one-time pastor at FAME, and Stephens himself was active in the Church. This connection has led some to speculate that Stephens had an unfair role in getting the School District to accept a lower offer for the MLK property from FAME.
The School District, however, rejects these claims of possible conspiracy or, at minimum, conflict of interest in the MLK sale. School Board member Michael DeBell was interviewed on KING stating that Stephens had nothing whatsoever to do with the District's decision-making process. However, Adrienne Bailey, leader of the Madison Valley residents who wanted to create a community center at MLK, was also interviewed, stating that she has evidence in the form of emails that show Stephens was, in fact, involved in the District's process.
Short of proving the sale of MLK was a fraudulent transaction, however, it is hard to see how the District could be forced to try to recover the Elementary School property, now that the deed has been transferred. There's been no comment, apparently, from FAME on the supposed Stephens connection to the property sale.
Meanwhile, we have been asked whether FAME has the right to dispose of the MLK site and keep any profits the Church might realize from the sale. We have read the MLK purchase and sale agreement and the related restrictive covenant agreement, and it appears that FAME is not prohibited from selling the property so long as certain community-use conditions continue to be met. The draft documents are available here for those who want to look for themselves. For some reason, the executed documents are not available online, but the School District has confirmed to us that "the draft was not significantly different from the final" documents.
As a practical matter, however, it seems unlikely that anyone would want to buy the property from FAME with the restrictive covenant in place. If community use of the site does not continue at the level contemplated by the agreement, rent will have to be paid to the School District for the conversion to non-public purposes. For example, $6,000 would due as an annual penalty for each classroom redeveloped for non-public use, and $20 per hour would be charged for each hour of contemplated public-use of the gym space that does not, in fact, occur. These rents or "value-sharing payments" would continue for the 40-year life of the restrictive covenant. After that point, the School District would apparently no longer have any control over the property's use.