Dear Friend of Welch College,
Last week I emailed and posted on our website a prayer letter informing Welch College supporters of opposition from the Richland-West End Neighborhood Association to the zoning of our property as a college campus if sold to Aquinas College, who signed a letter of intent with us in October to purchase our West End campus. I write again to inform you that Aquinas has withdrawn its offer to purchase our campus and to request prayer for our ongoing relocation effort at Welch.
The leadership and board at Aquinas believe that the timing of the zoning process with the Metro Board of Zoning Appeals, which could take several months because of neighborhood opposition, makes it impossible for Aquinas to move forward with the purchase and still have facilities ready for the 2015-16 academic year. Aquinas has gone back to its original plan to build residential facilities on its current campus for its new residential student population.
You may remember that something similar occurred more than twelve years ago, when Watkins College of Art attempted to purchase our campus and backed out under pressure from the neighborhood. Our plans at this point are to continue with the Metro Board of Zoning Appeals hearing scheduled for next month and see this zoning question through, getting a final ruling on our ability to sell the campus to another educational institution. This will keep this issue from arising in the future should another school show interest in the property.
Meanwhile, we will aggressively market the campus to a few residential developers who can develop the three different types of properties we have: (1) condominium-zoned property on West End, (2) educational building lots which will be marketed as new home lots, and (3) older homes that will be sold for renovation. These developers will simultaneously close on the property and lease the campus back to us for 16-18 months while we construct the new campus in Gallatin.
Recently at a rally for Welch College hosted by a group of churches in our area, we sang the old hymn, “God Leads Us Along.” The basic message of that song is that God’s leadership in our lives, while sometimes difficult, is always active, and is carrying us toward the realization of His purpose.
Despite this setback, we remain confident of God’s strong leadership. While we may see this as being led through the fire, as the hymn says, we trust in God’s leadership. So often in Scripture we find the Lord delaying the plans of His people, only to give them something better than they had originally requested. That is how we view this event.
So, as we have before, we seek your prayers for God’s leadership and wisdom, and your continued gifts for the dream of relocation. Thank you for your heartfelt support for the work of the Kingdom through Welch College.