A three-member special commission assigned a fair market value of $418 million to the former site of Fairfield Lake State Park in Freestone County, Texas. The valuation — almost five times the $85 million figure that state appraisers had proposed — creates a costly hurdle for Texas Parks and Wildlife Department as it pursues condemnation of the 5,025-acre property.
$418 Million Valuation
Although Texas Parks and Wildlife Department has yet to formally respond to the $418 million valuation, the chair of the Senate Committee on Water, Agriculture, and Rural Affairs, Senator Charles Perry, texted the Fort Worth Star-Telegram that “ … the $400 million price is greater than is available today.”
As previously reported, Vistra Corp. listed Fairfield Lake with Cash McWhorter of Hortenstine Ranch Company for $110 million in October 2021. On April 21, 2022, Dallas-based Todd Interests submitted an offer to buy the property, and the property went to contract. The sale closed on June 1, 2023.
Nine days later, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission voted unanimously to authorize Texas Parks and Wildlife Department to use eminent domain to condemn the site of the former state park.
Standard Eminent Domain Proceedings
After Todd Interests declined the state’s $85 million offer in August, the eminent domain process kicked in. A formal condemnation petition was filed in September.
Judge David Brabham appointed Taylor German, Nanette Harwell, and Gene Reynolds to determine the property’s fair market value. The three Freestone County residents were joined on the special commission by Eli Pratt and Justin Lee as alternates. Each side had 10 days to accept or eliminate the appointees. On October 12, the state chose to dismiss Reynolds, and Pratt moved up. Todd Interests dismissed Pratt, and Lee became the third commissioner. German is a realtor in Freestone County. Harwell is banking center president for Prosperity Bank. Lee is a rancher and real estate broker.
After two days of hearings, the three-member commission announced their valuation on November 15: $418.3 million.
Texas Parks and Wildlife Department has yet to announce how it will respond to the valuation decision.