Wilberforce University puts part of campus up for sale

Wilberforce University is looking to sell about 10 acres of its campus, including two buildings, for $7 million.

The university wants to then lease back its property and buildings to use, said William Woodson, senior vice president for finance and administration. The sale would provide a cash injection for the university, Woodson said.

“We want to leverage some of our assets to eliminate some of our debt,” Woodson said.

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The university’s Alumni Multiplex and health center, both located on North Bickett Road in Wilberforce, are the buildings that would be included in the sale.

Wilberforce University wants to lease the property back for at least a period of 20 years, Woodson said. No other parts of the campus are up for sale.

A few buyers are already interested in the property, Woodson said, and officials are hoping to sell the property in the next 30 to 60 days. Potential buyers will be vetted to make sure they are appropriate for the university to sell to, Woodson said.

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“We’re very comfortable with this type of transaction,” he said.

The properties are listed for sale by Transwestern, a realty company based in Michigan. The agents listed on the property are Marc Imrem and Andrew Watson in Chicago, Illinois and Bradly Fulkerson in Atlanta, Georgia.

Wilberforce University, the oldest historically black private university in the country, was at risk of losing its accreditation from mid-2014 through most of 2015, due to declining enrollment.

The school was issued a “show cause” order from the Higher Learning Commission that was later lifted in November 2015 after enrollment increased by more than 85 percent to around 650 students. If the college had lost its accreditation, its students would not be eligible for federal financial aid.

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The university’s decision to sell part of its property and lease it back follows an ongoing trend of Ohio colleges leasing out services and properties over several years for fast, large injections of money.

Wright State has considered outsourcing its parking operation to inject money into its budget upfront, while Ohio State already has for $483 million in a 50-year deal.

“That’s the low-hanging fruit,” Ohio University economist Richard Vedder told this news organization last month. “That’s the quick way to make money.”


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