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Property Housing University Goes on Market for $50M

Sale of 72-Acre Site Could Mean Relocation for Private School
February 5, 2018
San Diego-based Alliant Educational Foundation is marketing a 72-acre site, currently housing the main campus of the private Alliant International University, with an asking price of $50 million. Officials tell CoStar News that, depending on who buys the property, the university may either become a key tenant of the next owner, or wind up relocating altogether.

“There’s probably a 50-percent chance that the university relocates,” said Valin Brown, CEO of the non-profit Alliant Educational Foundation, which owns the land near Interstate 15 in San Diego’s Scripps Ranch submarket.

The foundation has tapped Eric Knowles and Robert Fletcher of brokerage firm Kidder Mathews to market the site located off Pomerado Road, which is currently improved with multiple university buildings.

Knowles, a senior vice president with Kidder Mathews who specializes in educational properties, said he’s bullish on the Alliant property’s chances of getting multiple bids from potential educational and recreational users, and possibly providers of housing. That would likely result in a purchase well above the asking price.

Knowles said entitled educational properties are scarce in the local market, at least in terms of large parcels, and brokers have already received numerous inquiries from international educational entities - including parties in the U.K. and China - interested in establishing West Coast branches in the United States.

He noted that the Alliant property had been placed on the market a few years ago but taken back off, amid uncertainty about whether the university was ready to relocate. The likelihood of an eventual relocation has since increased, though the university could still be part of a future owner’s plans.

The property is currently zoned only for educational or religious purposes. While it has only been up for sale this time since Feb. 2, Brown told CoStar News that the foundation has already received numerous queries from local, national and international entities involved in educational and religious programs.

Brown emphasized that the foundation is completely separate from the operations of Alliant International University, an independent and privately run entity offering graduate and undergraduate programs in areas including psychology, education, business and law. The university’s main campus is in Scripps Ranch, with five others throughout California, along with international locations in Mexico City, Hong Kong and Tokyo.

Previously, the non-profit educational foundation sold a 53-acre Scripps Ranch parcel, located to the east of the university, to private developer Spieker Senior Development Partners of Menlo Park. That developer recently broke ground on a $150 million senior housing community known as The Glen at Scripps Ranch, after receiving city zoning and other approvals in 2016.

The buyer of the 72-acre property housing the university, however, will need to accept its current zoning status - meaning commercial projects outside of education or religion are unlikely for now. Brown said the educational foundation is looking to gather proposals from potential buyers over the next six months, then decide how to proceed with the property sale.

Brown said the foundation’s main goal is maximizing the proceeds that would come from a sale of the real estate, in order to serve its broader program needs in the community, which go beyond education. Its upcoming plans, for instance, include expanding assistance to mental health programs, including those that serve groups such as military veterans and the homeless.

“We want to better leverage our resources to reach some of these groups that we feel could be better served based on what our mission is,” Brown said.

For its part, the university is weighing its future program needs, and whether it might be more efficient to operate on a smaller or otherwise right-sized property elsewhere.

“Alliant is currently searching for our long-term San Diego campus home that includes modern learning spaces and work environment for our students, staff and faculty,” university spokesperson Cielo Villasenor told CoStar News. “We will remain on our current footprint and location for the next two years and will either stay and build/remodel on part of the current land, or find a new location.”

Villasenor said the Alliant community has been involved in every step of this process.

In a recent letter sent to the Alliant San Diego campus community, as the property went on the market, University President and CEO Andy Vaughn said Alliant has embarked on a project known as San Diego Campus 2020, aimed at updating classrooms and boosting services with new technology and collaborative work spaces.

The university is also looking to upgrade air conditioning and other aging infrastructure. If it decides to relocate, Vaughn said the university may build a new San Diego campus on another site, or find other space accommodations within five to 10 miles of the current campus location.

Lou Hirsh, San Diego Market Reporter  CoStar Group   
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