NASHVILLE, TENN – Welch College has signed a contract to sell its campus on West End Avenue to Forestar Group Inc, an Austin, TX based real estate firm.
Matt Pinson, president of Welch College, said today that 7.14 acres of the 7.6 acre campus are being sold for approximately $12 million. The lot containing the Welch Library is not included in the sale.
Pinson noted the College’s long history in the Richland-West End area. “We were founded here 72 years ago as Free Will Baptist Bible College, long before the area became one of Nashville’s most appealing neighborhoods. We recognize the pride our neighbors have in this community and are happy to have found a buyer that intends to engage in meaningful dialogue with them about future plans for the property.”
Pinson said, “We are pleased with the purchase price and are delighted to be under contract with Forestar. This firm is noted for taking a smart approach to master planned neighborhoods that are aligned with the needs of the larger community.”
“Forestar brings the depth of experience and financial strength necessary to create a very special community on this ideally situated land. In addition, they bring a sensitive vision of how to transition the existing college campus back into the residential neighborhood in a manner that fits within the historic overlay and current zoning criteria,” Pinson added.
Representatives of the College and Forestar plan to meet during the next few weeks with Metro Councilman Jason Holleman and neighborhood leaders to initiate discussions and to set a framework for identifying and addressing community concerns. Pinson said the College is also working with the Metro Historical Commission regarding the Welch Library, the stone wall along Richland and Craighead Avenues and other historical features of the property.
Brentwood-based Land Innovations assisted the College with land use analysis and worked with Sisco & Farris, LLC, a licensed TN real estate firm, to match the property’s highest uses with a qualified buyer.
Dudley Smith, managing partner of Land Innovations, said that Forestar has a strong track record of developments that work with and enhance surrounding communities.
“We are confident Forestar will develop the property in a way that is sensitive to the desires of the neighborhood, maintains its historic character and stays within the current zoning,” Smith said.
Rick French of French King Fine Properties and Ellen Christianson of Christianson, Patterson, Courtney and Associates serve as the College’s sales and marketing team. “We are encouraged,” Christianson said. “After an exhaustive search, we are excited. The buyer clearly intends to work closely with the Richland-West End Neighborhood Association.”
Pinson noted that the College will continue to operate at its current location until construction is complete on its new 66-acre campus in Sumner County.
The College purchased property for the new campus in 2008 to accommodate the school’s growth in academic offerings and enrollment. “Escalating property values and zoning regulations make it impossible for us to expand the West End campus,” Pinson added. “In an increasingly competitive environment, we need larger dorm rooms, more green space, environmentally sensitive and technologically sophisticated facilities, and other student-friendly features only a new campus can make possible.”
The contract calls for a June 2015 closing. Before that time, the buyers will complete inspections and perform other due diligence related to the purchase of the campus.
Bob Bass, relocation project consultant for Welch, said, “If the contract process proceeds as planned, we will begin transferring certain lots and buildings to the new owners for their use soon after the closing. The core portion of the campus, including academic buildings, library, gymnasium, auditorium, dormitories, dining facilities and the student center will continue to be used by the College during a lease-back period of 18 months.”
The College has secured Focus Design Builders of Wake Forest, NC, to build the new Sumner County campus.
Welch College was established in 1942 as Free Will Baptist Bible College in a single building on Richland Avenue. In 2012 the College changed its name to Welch College to signify its development into a comprehensive Christian college.
With 40 majors and an annual enrollment of approximately 400 students, the College continues to expand educational programs on the undergraduate level and has strategic plans in place to offer graduate programs in the near future.