July 3, 2003


Proceeds needed to balance college’s budget—
Antioch to sell land on south end

Informational graphic by Matt Minde


Antioch College needs to balance its budget this year, and to do that college and university officials have agreed to sell 22 acres of property Antioch owns on the south end of Yellow Springs.

Located behind residences on Orton Road, Glenview Drive and Stewart Drive, the property is zoned Residence A, which according to the Village Zoning Code, allows for medium-density single-family development.

Antioch also currently has the Morgan House on Limestone Street on the market, but officials hope that it will remain a bed and breakfast.

“The college is not interested in managing real estate,” Antioch University vice-chancellor and CFO Glenn Watts said of the decision to sell the 22-acre property. “The land is surplus, and it has no foreseeable use by the college or the university.”

In addition, Watts said the favorable housing market, the college’s need for funds and the village’s need for additional housing, created an opportune moment to sell the properties. The college is asking $525,000 for the land, or approximately $24,000 per acre.

The college has owned the property, known as Birch III, since the 1930s when Hugh Taylor Birch donated Glen Helen and other land to Antioch. A proposal to sell the land was presented to the college budget committee late this spring. Its location in the village with access to utilities and good drainage make it ideal for housing, Watts said.

One local developer had previously expressed an interest in Birch III, Watts said, and the current low-interest rates could make it more attractive to other potential home builders. Local real estate agent Jo Dunphy agreed that current rates could be a positive incentive for buyers.

“Investors are going to be able to borrow at a lower rate, and that’s a big boon to developers and wonderful for people who want to buy houses,” Dunphy said. “And $24,000 per acre is a very fair price, one or two buyers would be perfect for it.”

The college needs the money for essential operating expenses and for student scholarships, one of the school’s biggest expenses, college President Joan Straumanis said.

In her “State of the College” address on Saturday, Straumanis said that proceeds from the sale will help the college balance its budget. “There’s no way we can have a balanced budget without selling the land,” she said.

But officials also realize that land is a finite resource and that the school needs to find a way to stabilize its finances by attracting more students, Watts said in a recent interview published in the Antioch Record, the campus newspaper.

The university is looking for a builder or an architect with a vision for the property, Watts said. Straumanis said that the college hopes to find a socially responsible developer who would build a variety of types of housing and serve the needs of Yellow Springs.

“We’d love a developer who would pay attention to the needs of our faculty for affordable housing,” she said.

Morgan House will be listed on the market next week, though it is available now. The university would consider leasing the building again, but officials prefer to sell it, Watts said.

Marianne Britton, who holds the lease on the Morgan House, closed down her bed and breakfast operation last month when health problems prevented her from continuing to manage the business. Britton has another two years to go on her 20-year lease, but she said last month that she does not want to sublease it.

—Lauren Heaton