$125 million Appliance Park sale far exceeds value General Electric once claimed
Three years ago, General Electric Co. protested when Jefferson County raised the tax value of its massive Appliance Park factory -- a move that meant the company would owe higher property taxes to local agencies like Jefferson County Public Schools. But the company ended up selling Appliance Park to Haier for more than five times what it claimed the property was worth.
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – Three years ago, General Electric Co. protested when Jefferson County raised the tax value of its massive Appliance Park manufacturing campus -- a move that meant the company would owe higher property taxes to local agencies like Jefferson County Public Schools.
At the time, GE said Appliance Park, which includes six manufacturing plants and a half-dozen other buildings in the Buechel-Newburg area, was worth $23 million – not the $42 million value assigned by Jefferson County Property Valuation Administrator Tony Lindauer’s office.
But last week, GE sold the Appliance Park real estate for more than five times what the company claimed it was worth in 2013.
The $125 million sale to Haier US Appliance Solutions, Inc. was a small component of the Chinese company’s $5.6 billion purchase of GE’s Louisville-based appliance division, which closed June 6.
The purchase price was listed in a deed filed with Jefferson County Clerk’s Office last week.
The Appliance Park campus in southeast Jefferson County is currently taxed at a $31 million value after GE settled the 2013 dispute with Lindauer’s office. Until the Haier sale, the property had been in GE’s hands since it was developed in the 1950s.
In an email, GE Appliances spokeswoman Kim Freeman said the $125 million price listed in the deed “reflects an allocation” of the $5.6 billion Haier paid for GE’s appliance business relative to “all underlying assets, including the (Appliance Park) real property.”
But the $125 million price “is not an appraisal that would estimate the value a cash buyer might pay for the (Appliance Park) real property in a stand-alone sale,” she said.
Next year Haier will likely owe taxes on the $125 million value, as PVAs usually reset assessments whenever a fair-market sale occurs.
That would mean a tax bill of about $1.25 million – up from about $300,000 currently, according to WDRB calculations. The tax revenue is shared by JCPS, Louisville Metro government, the state and the Okolona fire district.
Haier could appeal, as allowed under state law, to argue for a lower value.
Freeman said the sale to Haier is “the most significant change to this business in its 100-year plus history” and has resulted in many other changes.
“Appliance Park's valuation for property tax purposes may be one such change,” she said. “And, it’ll be dealt with as it always has been with the PVA's annual assessment process, something that will happen in due course come January.”
It would not be the first time a business has protested the tax value of its property shortly before selling it for much more.
The owners of the Starks Building in downtown Louisville sought to have it taxed at $8.5 million before selling it for $14.25 million less than two years later, as WDRB reported last year.
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