Offices occupied by higher ed tenants for sale in western suburbs
School for sale: Developers eye prime properties shopped by higher ed
Being razed or redeveloped for residential and mixed-use projects
Institutions of higher learning are selling properties no longer needed to developers aiming to repurpose them, making a Chicagoland real estate trend.
Educational organizations such as DeVry University, Wheaton College, Robert Morris and Northern Seminary have sold or listed well located sites in recent years amid declining enrollments, strained budgets and the amplification of online learning by the pandemic, the Chicago Tribune reported.
Many of these properties are undergoing transformations into apartments or mixed-use developments, while others could be razed completely.
“In recent years, financial pressures, changing demographics and adaptation to new learning models are motivating institutions to rethink their physical assets,” Bill Fahrner, a consultant for colleges and universities, told the outlet.
Wheaton College, located on a 15-acre site on the border of Wheaton and Glen Ellyn since 1997, recently purchased two buildings adjacent to its campus in October for $1.1 million and is preparing to vacate its long-held Scripture Press building that sits on a 16-acre site formerly owned by the Christian publishing firm.
With plans to be out of that large site by July, Wheaton College is working with a Glen Ellen developer who has proposed demolishing the structure to construct either 90 town homes or 278 apartments on the property.
Religious institution Northern Seminary sold its 27-acre campus on Butterfield Road in Lombard to Hoffman Alpha Omega Development Group in 2021 for an undisclosed amount. Hoffman razed the site to build a mixed-use project with apartments, retail space, a car wash, gas station and a combined Moretti’s restaurant and golf driving range complex called GolfSocial.
After the Lombard Village Board approved up to $27.5 million in incentives for the development, Hoffman ditched its plans, leaving JLL a mountain of debris to sell.
As for DeVry University, former owner Adtalem Global Education hired CBRE to market the 109,000-square-foot office building at 1200 East Diehl Road in January. Sources familiar with the offering expect the property to sell for about $8.5 million, a little more than the $8.1 million DeVry paid for the site in 2004.
And when Robert Morris University merged with Roosevelt University in 2020, then owner Rampante Realty faced a major uphill battle, and lost control of the Loop office property at 401 South State Street in March.
Rampante bought the building for $68 million in 2016, but when the pandemic struck, Robert Morris vacated the building and stopped making payments. That led to CWCapital Asset Management paying $20 million for the site as part of a court-ordered sale, several years after Deutsche Bank filed a foreclosure lawsuit against the property.
The firm has so far not revealed its plans for the property, which is a historic landmark.
— Quinn Donoghue
Lutheran School of Theology sells off Hyde Park campus for $19M
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