Universities See a Real Estate Upside in Merging with Smaller Schools

Larger universities, like Boston University, have begun swallowing up smaller schools that offer new students and a goldmine of real estate in dense urban areas.
September 24, 2017, 1pm PDT | jwilliams | @jwillia22
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Dave Herholz (Herkie)

As smaller colleges across the country struggle to attract new students willing to pay the high cost of tuition, some have sought to merge with other institutions to keep their programs afloat. Deirdre Fernandes of The Boston Globe reports that these smaller colleges have attracted attention of larger institutions looking to get their hands on valuable real estate. Fernandes notes the pending merger of Wheelock College with Boston University. Wheelock sits on over five acres on property in an area seeing rapid gentrification.

Real-estate prices in Boston have skyrocketed, and developable land in the city is limited, making the property owned by schools particularly attractive — either to another school that is hemmed in or to a commercial developer, real estate experts said.

Schools pondering mergers have to consider a host of factors to determine whether a partnership will work, but real estate is likely to be one of the issues, said David Begelfer, chief executive of NAIOP Massachusetts, a real estate trade group.

Fernandes writes that Boston University's president Robert Brown has not said how the Wheelock campus will be used, however many of the existing programs on both campuses will be consolidated.

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Published on Thursday, September 21, 2017 in The Boston Globe
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