Horizon Christian Academy sits on 23 acres that was once a Catholic orphanage and is now owned by a company that has been scrutinized elsewhere for its complex rental arrangements.
But Horizon officials say they don't pay rent. Their deal with property owner Schoolhouse Finance is to maintain the land and its several buildings.
A Schoolhouse Finance spokeswoman confirmed the property, the former home of the YWCA, has been on the market for a year and the company is negotiating with Horizon to buy it. The school is trying to secure financing, and no state funds would be used for the purchase, said Horizon administrators and co-founders, Tammy Henline and Anthony Beasley.
Imagine Schools Inc., with schools in several states, no longer operates in Indiana, where it once had four schools. Schoolhouse Finance is a subsidiary of Imagine Schools Inc.
Rhonda Cagle, a spokeswoman for Imagine Schools and Schoolhouse Finance, said Schoolhouse no longer needs the property. Horizon maintains it and pays utility bills, but does not pay rent, she said. Neither she nor Horizon officials would disclose details of their negotiations, though Beasley said a deal is near.
The complex has declined in value. It currently is assessed at under $2 million. It was assessed at more than $4 million in 2010, according to county records.
The complex and the North River property next to it were proposed as the site of a large-scale community/athletic center in 2004. The proposal was part of a failed bid by the local Salvation Army chapter to win part of a $1.5 billion gift given by the late Joan Kroc, wife of McDonald's founder Ray Kroc.
The city of Fort Wayne now owns the North River land. City spokesman John Perlich described the Wells Street property as “important real estate and a community asset.” He declined to say if the city had interest in it.