A Phoenix electronics firm that for more than a year has been trying to obtain state land in Payson for his company has apparently decided not to purchase the property.
Payson Economic Development Corp. President Ray Schum said Thursday that he thought he and others had helped pave the way for Phoenix Logistics to purchase 13.5 acres by the Payson Airport from the Arizona State Land Department.
But Schum said he learned Thursday from Phoenix Logistics owner Ray Bellefeuille that the electronics manufacturer was no longer interested in purchasing the property. Bellefeuille said Thursday that the state's asking price has risen too high.
The decision not to buy comes almost two years to the day that Bellefeuille sent in an application to the Arizona State Land Department to purchase the property adjacent to 25 acres the town planned to buy. The town purchased the land in the spring and plans to use it for airport expansion.
State land officials initially said they would only lease, not sell, the adjacent property to a private individual. Bellefeuille contended that leasing the property would not be cost effective for his company. He had plans to construct several buildings and to hire up to 200 workers at the Payson site.
After several meetings with town officials and concerned citizens, the State Land Department reversed its decision and agreed to sell the land.
"We went down and we bled all over those people to sell that piece of property," Schum said. "We supported (Bellefeuille) 100 percent and had the bankers, the chamber, the Economic Community Development group and town staff behind him."
Price has gone up
Schum and town officials accomplished part of their mission. They got the state to agree to sell the land, but at a price the Phoenix manufacturer says he cannot afford. Bellefeuille said Thursday that he has a document dated Dec. 10, 1998, that appraises the 13.5 acre parcel at $425,000.
He said, "On Aug. 17, 1999, the public auction sale notice stated the land had been appraised at $595,800. They said the land had been appraised at that amount, but I have the only official appraisal that was done, and that's $425,000. After our directors saw this they said, 'this is crazy -- we have a growing business. We can't put this much money out.'"
Bellefeuille said he will not be at the auction for the property on the courthouse steps at 10 a.m. Nov. 4 in Globe, but he hopes someone will buy it and keep it from going back to the state.
Schum said he hopes someone will be there to put in a bid and he hopes that someone will provide jobs and economic benefits to the community.
"I haven't given up on (Bellefeuille)," Schum said. "There's too much at stake to give up here, but I'm disappointed for the community. This is a big loss for us."
Schum said having the technology-based manufacturer here in Payson would have brought other businesses to town -- "right here to our doorstep."
Bellefeuille said he was not looking elsewhere for property for Phoenix Logistics. "I am talking to one other party right now in Payson," he said. "We're not talking to any other town.
"I have to do what's right for our company because it's growing and demands cash. I would say, don't get discouraged Payson -- I still want to come."