No asking price, numerous offers as Rancho Palos Verdes campus hits market

Marymount California University announced it was closing in April, producing buzz about the 24-acre peninsula parcel

Marymount California University president Brian Marcotte and the 24-acre Marymount California University campus (Marymount California University, LoopNet, iStock)
Marymount California University president Brian Marcotte and the 24-acre Marymount California University campus (Marymount California University, LoopNet, iStock)

Earlier this spring, Marymount California University, a small college with a scenic blufftop campus on the Palos Verdes Peninsula, announced it was shutting down. The news was a blow for the school’s academic community, but the pending availability also set the local real estate industry buzzing.

Now it’s officially up for grabs: On Monday, the university announced that the nearly 25-acre campus in Rancho Palos Verdes, as well as a separate residential property in nearby San Pedro, has hit the market.

Even before the listing, Marymount California’s president told TRD the property had received a flurry of serious inquiries and unsolicited offers as plans to close the school became public.’

“Just that announcement has triggered a significant amount of interest, because a lot of people do know the property,” said Brian Marcotte, referring to the university’s announcement in April.

The university received about a dozen unsolicited offers, Marcotte said. Many came from residential developers, but interest in the property has also sprouted from a range of other potential buyers, including medical, nursing and future high schools, senior living facilities and spas.

The property currently has an institutional zoning designation, so a residential developer could face a potentially complicated entitlement process. But the Palos Verdes Peninsula location and jaw-dropping Pacific view — which on a clear day includes Santa Catalina Island — certainly seems like a prime spot for luxury developers.

“The view is the most obvious selling point,” said Marcotte, who added that he personally loves the location for its combination of accessibility and remoteness.

“There’s almost a sense of serenity on the property,” he said, “It is a calming sort of place — there’s no hubbub, there’s not a lot of traffic. It’s just a calming sort of environment, even though … in five minutes I can be at a Home Depot, and can go to a restaurant or fast food place.”

Both the Rancho Palos Verdes campus and the separate residential facility––located in the northwest section of San Pedro, a district within the City of Los Angeles––are listed as “unpriced.” Marcotte declined to reveal the terms of any offers that had already come in, citing a desire to not influence how the market might value such a unique property.

When pressed, he did confirm the offers were above $30 million — the “wild-ass guess” put forward on a potential sale price by one local broker following the university’s closure announcement in April.

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“There’s no comps for that,” the broker, Dana Graham, who has sold numerous luxe properties near the campus, said at the time.

The university is accepting bids through July 12 for the properties individually or together as a portfolio. After that a team the college has dedicated to the sale, which includes Marcotte, will consider the offers, with the Board of Trustees responsible for the final decision.

The campus property consists of one 13-acre lot, where development is concentrated, as well as a surrounding nearly 12-acre undeveloped lot. A buyer who bought both lots could redevelop the entire 25 acre campus or repurpose the built portion and develop the vacant 12 acres, the listing notes. The built portion consists of 10 buildings, including a chapel and library, and also has tennis courts and a pool.

Marymount’s additional San Pedro property, called “The Villas,” is an 11-acre site located on South Antietam Street, just off Palos Verdes Drive and near Ken Malloy Harbor Regional Park. The development has 86 “townhouse-style units” with their own balconies and garages, and the complex also has basketball courts, sand volleyball courts, a pool and a gym. The site also has nearly two acres of vacant land.

That property, however, must remain dedicated to educational purposes through at least 2028, potentially limiting its desirability for developers. So far some prospective buyers have been interested in acquiring both the Palos Verdes campus and The Villas site together, Marcotte said, while others have only been interested in the campus.

Marymount California University was founded in the late 1960s as the two-year Marymount Palos Verdes College and changed its name in 2013, when it adopted some four-year and graduate programs. The school recently had around 500 full-time students, but, like many small colleges, has for years struggled with declining enrollment. In April, after a planned merger with a small college in Florida fell through, school officials announced it would close at the end of August.

The school plans to use proceeds from any property sale to establish an educational foundation.

“I wouldn’t be telling you the truth if I didn’t say it feels a little bad,” Marcotte said of the ongoing property sale discussions. “All of us here have, to some extent or another, kind of wrapped a piece of our lives in the property … What keeps me afloat on this is that we’ve had so much response from former students on what a huge impact this school has had on their lives.”

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