After searching for a buyer for the past four years, the Boy Scouts of America Long Beach Area Council (LBAC) has sold its private, 10-acre campground known as Will J. Reid Scout Park in north Long Beach to Orange County-based developer Integral Communities.
LBAC has owned the gated property for 65 years but decided to consolidate resources amid dwindling membership and budget deficits.
Integral Communities, a diversified real-estate company headquartered in Newport Beach, closed escrow earlier this month on the sale but has so far not revealed its plans for the site. The developer was established in 2003 by principals of Western Pacific Housing and has experience building and acquiring residential, commercial and mixed-use projects throughout California, according to the company’s website.
Phone messages left and emails sent by the Signal Tribune seeking comment from Integral Communities Principal C. Evan Knapp were not returned before press time.
The park property, which includes classrooms, a meeting room, a pool house and other facilities, is being sold for $6 million, about $1.15 million more than the appraised price for a deal that fell through earlier this year.
In May, the LBAC Board decided to not renew its contract with The Trust for Public Land, a nonprofit that sought to facilitate a “joint use” settlement between a developer and a public steward to ensure that a portion of the land would remain as open space, but the group failed to find a buyer. Under that deal, the land was priced at $4.85 million.
Since the previous contract was terminated, the property, located at 4747 Daisy Ave. and bounded by the Virginia Country Club, the Dominguez Gap Wetlands, a railroad track, the Los Angeles River and a residential neighborhood, was put on the open market.
While real-estate negotiations took place, the property sat unutilized since late 2012, and LBAC stopped maintaining the property in July. All of the council’s personal property has been removed, according to LBAC officials.
In a letter to Scout members, LBAC states that the new transaction meets the council’s objectives of both “maximizing return on the sale” and finding a buyer that has committed to “enhancing our community.” Long Beach-based real-estate broker Inco Commercial Realty and community leaders helped seal the deal, according to LBAC.
“Careful consideration was given to find the best candidate who could meet the needs of the council and who could be a good partner in the neighboring community,” the letter reads.
John Fullerton, LBAC executive director, declined to comment in a phone interview on the developer’s plans for the site. Though preserving part of the land for open space has “always been [LBAC’s] goal,” he said the future of the site and whether the company will work with the community is solely up to the developer.
“We sold the property in its entirety,” Fullerton said. “I can’t really comment on [Integral Communities’] behalf.”
LBAC has been searching for a buyer to purchase the property as membership has dwindled significantly and the organization has experienced budget deficits, forcing the Scouts to consolidate resources, Fullerton said.
Throughout the years, LBAC membership has dropped from 12,000 to 4,500 members, since the Scouts first bought the park and other properties, including the square-mile Camp Tahquitz in Angeles Oaks near Big Bear, the Aquatics Center Sea Scout Base near Marine Stadium in Belmont Shore and the Council Service Center, he said.
“It’s been very difficult for us to support the same properties with only about a third of the membership,” Fullerton said.
After seeing a gradual decline in usage of the park, with only 22 percent of the program’s usage coming from local constituents, LBAC made a decision to instead invest in its other existing resources, he said.
Also, Fullerton said LBAC troops are able to use a brand-new, $30-million camp facility, known as the Irvine Ranch Outdoor Education Center (IROEC), located just 30 minutes away in Orange County at the end of the 22 Freeway.
The net proceeds from the sale will be put into LBAC’s investment pool and help bolster the council’s endowment, he said. Interest from the sale will also help deliver more Scout programs at the organization’s existing facilities and assist in creating a capital reserve fund to be used to maintain and fix-up properties, Fullerton said.
“As places need new roofs, and other maintenance issues come up, we’ll be able to repair it in a timely and professional manner,” he said.
Some of those improvements have already begun, such as the construction of a new bridge across Highway 38 and the installation of new bathroom facilities, according to LBAC. Additionally, LBAC was recently awarded a $750,000 matching grant for a new dining hall at Camp Tahquitz.
In conjunction with LBAC, the IROEC will be hosting an open house on Sunday, Nov. 24 from 1pm to 4pm. Admission is free. For more information on this event, visit longbeachbsa.org or iroec.webs.com . ß