Land Exchange:

Phoenix and Collier Reach Agreement on Indian School Property

GGD-92-42: Published: Feb 10, 1992. Publicly Released: Feb 10, 1992.

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Pursuant to a legislative requirement, GAO analyzed actions taken by the Department of the Interior, Phoenix, Arizona, and a firm since the June 25, 1991 submission of a development plan for the Phoenix Indian School property in Arizona.

GAO found that: (1) an exchange agreement between Interior and the firm provided that the firm would exchange four tracts of environmentally sensitive land it owned in Florida for a portion of land occupied by the Phoenix Indian School and a payment of $34.9 million by the firm for 2 Indian educational trust funds; (2) most conditions to exchange the Florida and Arizona lands have been met; (3) 16 acres of the school land will be used for medical care facilities, Phoenix will have 77 acres of parkland, and the federal government will acquire 108,000 acres of land in Florida; (4) Congress was unable to test the land's value by competitive bidding because the firm had the right to match the highest bid and Phoenix placed limitations on the permitted uses of the land; (5) it could not conclude that the Florida properties along with the $34.9 million for the trust funds equal the value of the firm's portion of the Indian School property, because the Florida land has not been revalued since 1988 and the value of the Indian School property cannot be determined using professional methodologies; and (6) Phoenix's actions in the exchange raised questions regarding whether a locality should have the authority to use zoning as a means of acquiring land in federal disposition programs without compensation to the federal government if the goal is to maximize the return to the federal government.