ESJ Capital sells troubled Wellington charter school for $14M

The school was shut down by the county's school board due to financial woes
By Keith Larsen | April 22, 2019 01:30PM

ESJ Capital’s Arnaud Sitbon and Eagle Arts Academy

ESJ Capital Partners sold the site of a former troubled Wellington charter school for $14 million.

Eagle Arts Academy was shut down by the Palm Beach County School Board last summer after the school ran into financial trouble and reportedly was late paying rent and salary to its faculty.

Miami-based Academica bought the 12.4-acre site at 1000 Wellington Trace, records show. Academica is a charter school service company that manages more than 100 schools throughout the United States, according to its website.

ESJ Capital Partners had previously leased the property to Eagle Arts Academy, a visual arts charter school that was founded in 2012. The school once had more than 700 students, but attendance fell to less than 200 after the school suffered financial woes.

The Palm Beach Post reported the school’s founder, Gregory Blount, directed $150,000 of school’s money into his own personal companies. The publication also reported that Blount collected at least $42,000 from the charter school through one of his companies for the rights to use the name Eagle Arts Academy and use its eagle logo, website and data-processing system.

Palm Beach County’s School Superintendent Donald Fennoy sought to shut the school down last July arguing that its financial conditions made it unsafe for students.

The school was built in 1989. ESJ had bought the property in June 2014 for $9.5 million, records show.

Aventura-based ESJ Capital Partners has been an active buyer and seller of charter schools in South Florida. In March, ESJ and its partner, Hollywood-based MG3 Developer Group, sold the Renaissance Charter School at 3200 South State Road 7 in Wellington to Red Apple at Wellington LLC for $23 million.

ESJ and MG3 also sold the Renaissance Charter School at Goldenrod in Orlando to Red Apple for nearly $22 million.

The company is currently redeveloping Jungle Island in the city of Miami.