Bandera School Trustees Approve the Sale of Bandera Downs

On Thursday, July 31, Bandera ISD trustees votes unanimously to accept a $1.3 million offer on the former Bandera Downs racetrack, a 134-acre parcel on Texas 16 that the district bought in 1998 for $1.48 million. Bidders Ron Kitchens and Ron Green plan to close on the parcel in September. Proceeds from the sale would fund construction of new school administrative offices to replace those now at the track.

Six times before, the district sought bids without receiving an offer equal to the track's appraised value of $1.28 million.
Kitchens said plans for their "Bandera Hollow Golf Resort" also call for purchasing 250 acres of adjoining land containing the Lost Valley Golf Resort.

Kitchens, a home-builder based in Helotes, spoke of $25 million in investments, including a 120-room hotel and up to 300 luxury homes around the golf course in the next five years. He said a decision on how to use the track site is about a year away.

"We flew in our feasibility team, and they like it," he said Friday.

Green was more restrained, saying, "If our financing doesn't go through, we're not going to buy either one of them. I'd say it's about 75-25 that it will go through."

If the track is sold, it would close a divisive era in local politics that still generates heated debate.

In 1996, voters overwhelmingly rejected a $15 million bond package that included $3 million to buy the track (which closed in 1995) and $12 million to build a high school there.

But trustees pressed ahead with visions of a school campus on the site, bidding $1.48 million on the defunct track at a tax foreclosure auction in 1998.

The purchase, which became a school board election issue and helped defeat a $22.6 million bond election in 2000, remains a sensitive topic.

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