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PHILADELPHIA-The state has sold Laurelton Center, a 272-acre, 52-building former facility for the mentally retarded, to Fairfax, VA-based Sports Management Group, which owns nearby Woodward Camp, an athlete training facility. No money changed hands in the transaction, which was the state’s third serious attempt to sell the property that was built in 1921 and closed in June 1998.

The state used a process of “fair consideration” in transferring ownership to Woodward.

Without specifying a price, the Department of General Services describes “fair consideration” as an agreement that allows Woodward to “apply monies used to pay for construction, real estate taxes, sales taxes and other various costs that would otherwise be paid directly to the Commonwealth . . .to be invested into the Union County community.”

The statement estimates an anticipated economic benefit to the region of in excess of $3.8 million over the next five years.

Sports Management Group is a professional athletic management firm. It operates Woodward West in Stallion Springs, CA and Lake Owen in Cable, WI in addition to Woodward Camp in Woodward, PA. Woodward Camp currently specializes in training for action and extreme sports and was the training site for the USA Gymnastics National Team.

Two previous sale agreements for Laurelton Center fell through. The first offer was from an Allentown, PA-based developer that planned Hampton Laurelton, a retirement community for seniors. According to published reports, the developer failed to meet the state’s contract deadlines.

Later, a group of local developers, identified as Hickernell Springs, negotiated to buy the facility for a planned golf resort and convention center, but failed to secure funding.

“We’re very pleased that this property will be returned to the local tax rolls and placed back into productive use, benefiting the citizens of Pennsylvania,” says Kelly Powell, secretary of the general services department, in a statement. He credits a partnership of local and state officials with making the project possible.

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