August 7, 2003


22-acre property located on south end of town—

Interest, no offers, on Antioch land

Since they put a 22-acre property on the market last month, Antioch University officials say they have received several inquiries but no firm offers.

So far, two developers have expressed interest in using the land for a housing development — one with upscale homes and the other, mixed income housing — and a local educator has proposed using the land for a school.

The property, called Birch III, is located on the south end of town, behind residences on Orton Road, Glenview Drive and Stewart Drive. The land is zoned Residence A, which allows for medium-density single-family housing.

This spring an Antioch College budget committee recommended Antioch sell the land, which was donated to the college in the 1930s by Hugh Taylor Birch, the former Antioch student who most notably gave Antioch Glen Helen, to offset the college’s financial problems.

The asking price for the land is $525,000, or about $24,000 an acre.

“I have talked to several groups and firms which are interested in it but nothing has manifested in a formal sense,” Antioch University Vice Chancellor Glenn Watts, said.

The two developers who expressed interest are “reputable and high quality,” Watts said. He declined to name the specific firms. One firm discussed the possibility of using the land for upscale but “not super high-end” homes, he said.

A representative of the other developer, who asked not to be named, said the developer has interest in creating “mixed-income housing with attention to the needs of the community.”

The university also received a proposal from Yellow Springs resident Nancy Schwab, director of the Nightingale Montessori school in Springfield, who proposed using the property for a Montessori lab school.

In the proposal, Schwab stated that she could pay Antioch half its asking price for the property, and would seek matching funds from land grants and private foundations for the rest. In a phone interview this week, she said that the school, which Schwab hopes would collaborate with Antioch College to offer a teacher certification program that the college now lacks, would make up the price shortfall by attracting more students to the college.

Schwab also said that the school would “ensure the continuation of the college’s legacy and the values it upholds long into this new century.”

But both Watts and Antioch College President Joan Straumanis, who will decide together to whom Antioch sells the land, emphasized that the bottom line for the land sale will hel to alleviate the college’s financial problems, and that therefore the college needs to receive the full asking price for Birch III.

“The land was given to us for our financial health, and we need to maximize that,” Straumanis said.

According to Watts, the university will sell the land to whoever first comes up with the asking price, regardless of land use.

“We don’t think we’re in a position to shape what will happen to the land,” he said.

However, Straumanis said that if the university receives more than one offer at that asking price, the land use could be a determining factor in who Antioch strikes a deal with.

“The good of the village and the good of the college could come into play, other things being equal,” she said.

Antioch University is seeking to finalize the sale by June 30, 2004, in order to affect the college’s 2003–04 fiscal year.

Even with the proceeds from the sale, Antioch College will have a $500,000 deficit, Watts said. The college’s deficit for 2002–03 was $600,000, he said.

Also on the market is the Morgan House, a longtime Yellow Springs bed and breakfast business that was built in the 1920s as the residence of Arthur Morgan, who was the president of Antioch College at the time, and his family. The Morgan House was formerly run by Marianne Britton, who closed down her business in June when health problems prevented her from continuing.

The university is seeking $325,000 for the three-story property on Limestone Street, which, according to Watts, needs significant refurbishing.

Watts said that “a number of people” have inquired into the Morgan House property, mainly people interested in using the property for a bed and breakfast establishment. Those interested have mainly been from other parts of Ohio, according to Watts. One inquirer came from Pennsylvania, he said. However, the university has received no offers.

The Dayton-based realty firm Sibcy Cline is marketing the Morgan House property. The university did not talk to any local realtors about handling the property, Watts said, explaining that Sibcy Cline was chosen because it has “a broad reach in terms of being in touch with the commercial market.”

—Diane Chiddister