AUSTIN (KXAN) — A special commission in Freestone County has determined the property containing the former Fairfield Lake State Park is worth more than $418 million.
The three-person commission had been appointed by a district court judge to assess the current fair market value of the 5,000-acre property as part of eminent domain proceedings.
The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department is attempting to acquire the land, which includes the former state park, through eminent domain. TPWD had leased 1,460 acres of the entire property from an energy company for 50 years, but it was sold to a Dallas-based developer, Todd Interests, earlier this year.
Shawn Todd, CEO of Todd Interests, previously walked KXAN through his plans to turn the site into a luxury private development. In addition to the 400 lakefront homes, the development will feature “amenities a family should expect from a world-class resort,” including a clubhouse, restaurant, resort pool and a “championship-level” golf course. Construction began in June.
Todd purchased the property for “just north” of $100 million but said the site was worth a lot more than that. In June, he told KXAN his bank had appraised the value of the property’s water rights alone at $238 million.
The Dallas Morning News reported that Todd testified at the special commission hearing this week that he believed the property was worth $475 million. TPWD’s appraisal report, meanwhile, valued the property at $85 million.
The commission assessed the value of the property at $418.3 million. A spokesperson for the department told KXAN staff would evaluate the valuation and decide next steps.
“Texans overwhelmingly support state parks and current supply can’t keep up with the demands of our growing population,” Deputy Communications Director Cory Chandler said. “Our mission calls on us to provide for current and future outdoor recreation needs, and we will continue to work toward that end.”
There are a couple of different options that could pan out from here. TPWD could pay Todd Interests the $418.3 million and take possession of the property immediately. Either party — TPWD or Todd Interests — could also object to the commissioners’ valuation of the property, which would move the case to a civil trial.
KXAN reached out to Todd for comment but has not yet heard back.