SOUTHINGTON — Both national and local real estate firms are marketing the former Lincoln College property, a campus that’s for sale for $9.5 million.
The property has been mostly dormant since the for-profit college closed in 2018.
Mendel Paris, a New Haven developer, is one of the owners who bought the 32-acre Mount Vernon Road property in 2022 for $3.5 million. He’s marketing the property locally with Chozick Realty of Hartford and nationally and internationally with Colliers.
Paris couldn’t be reached for comment this week.
Todd Noel, director of Colliers’ Education Services Group, is marketing the property to schools. He and his team have experience marketing school properties and said there’s demand internationally, particularly from Asia and the Pacific.
“We’re having good conversations with boarding schools. We’re getting a lot of interest from international boarding schools,” he said. “We’ve had a lot of success in selling a vacant or closed college campus and bringing on a local stakeholder to help with marketing and tours.”
He believed a sale to a school would be unlikely this year however, since a school would want to be ready to open for the school year. That leaves little time this year but he hoped to be in talks with a prospective buyer this year for a closing in 2024.
“They want to minimize their carry cost,” Noel said.
There are seven buildings on the land at the corner of Welch Road and Mount Vernon Road. Noel said they’ve been well maintained both by the previous owner and Paris.
Two years ago, a Jewish summer camp used the property.
He estimated the cost of building such a campus between $30 million and $40 million, plus the cost of the land. That cost, plus sales of comparable sites, was used to determine the price.Converting the campus to housing
Noel said he’s casting a wide net to prospective buyers. The land is zoned residential and that’s still a possibility, Noel said. Residential halls could become multifamily housing while classroom buildings are demolished to make way for houses.
“We have garnered a fair amount of interest from single family home developers,” he said.
A developer could build single family homes without any special town approval since the property is in a residential zone. For multi-family housing, acting town planner Dave Lavallee said a developer would need approval from the Planning and Zoning Commission.
“A zoning text amendment through PZC would likely be the route to take to try and get higher density there,” Lavallee said.
A private school or college would require a special permit from town planners, he said.Previous development attempts
Paris had the property for sale for $6.9 million last year.
Owners prior to Paris made several attempts to return the property to use after failing to secure a new school. The town’s zoning rules allowed them to seek approval for medical, rehabilitation, veterinary and other uses. Opposition from neighbors over the potential for a drug rehabilitation center and hesitation from town planners caused property owners to withdraw the proposal.
Without a school and another way to reuse the campus buildings, the previous property owners then got town approval for age-restricted cluster housing. Their intent was to develop the land with Mark Lovley, a local developer, but those plans were curtailed by Paris’ offer to buy the property.
Paris wanted to return the property to its original residential designation and remove the age-restricted cluster housing zone. He got approval for the zoning change two years ago.