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UNIVERSITY LAND AND BUILDING CommissioNERS
PUBLISHED BY AUTHORITY.
SEATTLE, WASHINGTON, Nov. 29, 1892. To the Governor :
We respectfully submit herewith the report of the Board of University Land and Building Commissioners, appointed under the act of the legislature, approved March 7, 1891, entitled "An act providing for the establishment, location, maintenance and support of the University of Washington.” (Session Laws, 1891, p. 229.)
Pursuant to sec. 1 of said act, the board of regents of the University, on May 12, 1891, appointed James R. Hayden, of Seattle, a member of the new board; he entered upon his duties May 16, 1891. March 14, 1891, the executive appointed John Arthur, of Seattle; John McReavy, of Union City, and Charles F. Leavenworth, of Olympia, as members for four years.
Pursuant to sec. 2, the acting governor and the members so appointed by him met in the city of Seattle, at 1 P. M., on the first Monday in April, A. D. 1891, and organized the board. They elected John Arthur, of Seattle, president pro tempore, Martin D. Smith, of Spokane, secretary; William E. Boone, of Seattle, architect and superintendent of construction. April 15, 1891, Fred G. Plummer, of Tacoma, was appointed chief engineer. Secretary Smith resigned his position June 15, 1891. Upon his resignation the board elected James R. Hayden as secretary, without salary, and authorized him to employ an assistant.
DEEDS FOR OLD UNIVERSITY SITE. Immediately upon the organization of the board, one of its members was instructed to procure the deeds referred to in sec. 5 of the act creating the board, reading as follows:
“Sec. 5. As soon as practicable after the original donors, their successors or assigns, and the corporate authorities of the city of Seattle have executed and delivered to the Board of University Land and Building Commissioners deeds in proper form, forever quitclaiming and releasing to the State of Washington all claims of right, title interest and estate, of
known and occupied as the site of the University of Washington, which said ten acre tract was conveyed to the Territory of Washington by A. A. Denny and wife, C. C. Terry and wife and Edward Lander, in April, 1861, which deeds shall be duly recorded in the office of the county auditor, said Board of University Land and Building Commissioners shall proceed to locate the University on a tract of land not to exceed one hundred and sixty acres of the fractional school section described as follows, to wit: Section sixteen (16) in township twenty-five, north of range four east, which said fractional school section is within a radius of six miles of the present site of the University of Washington, in the city of Seattle.”
All those deeds were procured and filed for record within a little more than one month from the date of the organization of the board.
TEN ACRE TRACT IN SEATTLE. Immediately upon the recording of the quitclaim deeds from all parties in interest to the old University site in Seattle, the board directed the chief engineer to make a careful survey of that ten acre tract and prepare a plat of it in lots and blocks, conformably to the plan of the adjoining portion of the city of Seattle. Early in the summer of 1891 he did so. The plat made by him has not been executed by the board, for reasons stated below.
In compliance with section six of the law, the acting governor appointed Hon. Miles C. Moore, of Walla Walla; the mayor of Seattle appointed IIon. M. S. Drew, of Seattle; and the board appointed Robert Wingate, of Tacoma, as the appraisers of the tract. Mr. Wingate was absent from the state at the time designated for the meeting of the appraisers, and the board appointed Isaac W. Anderson, of Tacoma, in his stead. Messrs. Moore, Drew and Anderson duly met and qualified, and organized by choosing Mr. Moore as chairman and Mr. Anderson as secretary. In August, 1891, they made an examination of the tract for the purpose of appraising it by lots, by blocks, and as a whole. At the close of the investigations made by them concerning the condition of the real estate market in Seattle at that time, and the prices which could be obtained for lots in the University tract, we learned that their valuation, in detail and as a whole, would fall far below the prices for which we would consent to sell. At that time there was no activity in real property business in Seattle or in any other part of the state. There was no demand for high priced city property.
fore requested the appraisers to postpone the making of the appraise. ment to such time as the board should thereafter indicate. They
We have not yet called upon those gentlemen to complete the task which they kindly undertook for us.
It will be seen by reference to section six of the act, that the board is not clothed with the discretionary power to reject all bids for the property which it considers too low. If the best bid be as high as the appraised value, the bidder is entitled to the land, even though the board deem his bid much too low. The language of the act is:
“At the time appointed for the sale the board shall publicly open and announce all bids received, by mail or otherwise, and invite other bids. The highest bid made on the day of sale shall be accepted, unless it is less than the appraised value of the parcel of land bid for, in which event the board shall postpone the sale and re-advertise.”
We regard this want of discretionary power as a defect in the law. The board should be given authority to reject a bid for any parcel of the land, or for the whole tract, when in its judgment the price bid is inadequate; just as it has the power to reject at its discretion all bids for the construction of buildings which it deems too high.
This ten acre tract is the most valuable piece of property which the state possesses.
It should not be sold for less than one-half million dollars ($500,000). It ought to be held until it brings from $750,000 to $1,000,000.
Had the appraisement been made during the monetary depression of 1891 and the property been sold as the act contemplates, it is doubtful whether we could have realized one hundred and fifty thousand dollars ($150,000) from it. No member of the board would give his consent to the making of such a sacrifice, even for the purpose of building a new university.
Being situated in the heart of the largest city in the state, no other land owned by the state will grow so rapidly in value. With a population of one hundred thousand in Seattle this tract will bring a full million dollars. This increase of population will be realized within the next five years. The proceeds arising from the sale of this tract should be applied to the erection of the buildings needed, with the main building, to make a real university. The fund for the construction of the main building, the engine house