MORGANTOWN, W.Va. -- The properties that West Virginia University is spending $14.5 million to buy are appraised for about one-third of that -- just $4.5 million.
The Charleston Daily Mail says that's what it determined after examining Monongalia County tax records for 2012.
But Board of Governors Chairman Drew Payne told The Associated Press there's a big difference between appraised and fair market values, saying that his own home is probably appraised at one third of what he could get for it.
"You have somebody willing to sell it and somebody willing to buy it, that's the market," he said Thursday. "The location makes it worth it."
WVU was closing Thursday on 39 parcels in a deal the board approved earlier this week, along with the issuance of revenue bonds. Although records show the agreement was reached in May, it was only revealed to legislators in a report last month.
The sellers are Paradigm Development Group and RCL Holding, two of five companies incorporated since spring 2011 by Ryan Lynch. Paradigm approached WVU with the deal, offering to sell the properties in exchange for the right to develop, finance and manage at least one new student housing facility.
Paradigm's principals are Lynch, James E. Brown, engineering professor David R. Martinelli and a real estate developer, Peter Prokophchuk. Lynch also formed WV Campus Housing LLC, in which Brown and Martinelli are also partners.
Payne called the project "transforming" for a blighted neighborhood and said that quality housing has long been a problem. He characterized the deal as a public-private partnership in which WVU will basically manage the new properties that are created.
"To me, it's pretty amazing what they've done to put this deal together," he said. "I'm very excited about it. I just think it's a game-changing type of project."