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Saint Paul’s campus goes on the market

South Boston News
SoVaNow.com / January 29, 2014


Saint Paul’s College in Lawrenceville has hired a Richmond-based real estate firm to try to find a buyer for the 183-acre campus and facilities, shuttered since summer after the historically-black institution lost its struggle to stay afloat.

Saint Paul’s, one of 106 Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) in the U.S., is turning to Motley’s Auction & Realty Group to find a suitable buyer, preferably another college or university.

Motley’s Auction & Realty Group has not yet released a listing price for the property.

Patrice Carroll, who is serving as the listing agent, said her company was selected because of their experience selling large, unique properties. “Some years ago, one of the Vice Presidents [of Motley’s] sold a college campus in Texas.”

Carroll said she has been contacted by a handful of schools, and has reached out to others who may be interested in establishing a satellite campus, but “it’s still early in the process.”

The 125-year-old college closed its doors June 30, 2013 after it was unable to overcome a string of problems ranging from lost academic accreditation to shaky finances. Most of the remaining 160 students transferred to other Historically Black Colleges and Universities, including Norfolk State, Virginia State and Virginia Union.

Since the closing, Dr. Millard D. “Pete” Stith has been responsible for maintaining the property, with the hope that the college could one day reopen. Recently he asked the Virginia General Assembly for $5 million to cover the costs associated with transitioning Saint Paul’s from a private school to a part of the Virginia University system.

Unfortunately, Stith said, instead of giving the money to the school, the budget bill set aside $5 million for a study on whether to allow Saint Paul’s to join the Virginia College and University system.

In December, the Board of Trustees appointed Stith as President of the College and charged him with finding an experienced realtor to market the property. Stith retired in 2010 as Chesterfield County’s deputy county administrator for community development. In 2012, he became Saint Paul’s vice president for institutional advancement. After the school closed in June 2013, Stith agreed to stay on as executive administrator to oversee the shutdown of the campus.

Carroll said she is working closely with Stith to fulfill the Board of Trustee’s desire to bring in a school willing to continue the mission of Saint Paul’s College. The Board’s first choice, Stith said, would be for a historically black college or university to take over the campus. “However, we are open to any college that expresses an interest, Liberty, UVa., Longwood.”

The Lawrenceville campus has 36 buildings, including James Solomon Russell’s original schoolhouse and the Saul’s Art Center which are both on the National Register of Historic Places. The ability to qualify for tax credits to renovate or maintain these buildings should be of interest to a buyer, Carroll said.

A small staff continues maintenance of the grounds and buildings, which in Stith’s view should make the facility more attractive to a buyer.

The school also owns an adjoining 577 acres. Carroll said this tract can be sold separately or with the main campus. She did not rule out selling the acreage to a farmer seeking to farm the land.

One issue that Motley’s lawyers are researching has to do with the ownership of Episcopal Church building on campus. “It’s been associated with the school for many years, but our lawyers want to make certain there are no restrictions to transferring the church with the rest of the campus.

Bringing a college or university back to Saint Paul’s Campus would also benefit the town, which lost between 80 and 100 jobs when the school closed, according to estimates from Lawrenceville Mayor Douglas Pond.

Carroll said she is “pleased” by the help and support she’s received from the Town and the school, and is excited for the chance to restore much needed jobs to Brunswick County and to bring new life and spirit to the campus.

She encourages anyone with interest in the campus to view the company’s Facebook page, http://www.motleys.com/, or contact her at 4402 West Broad Street, Richmond, VA 23230, or 804-355-2100, or by email at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

Calls to Pond for comment were not returned as of press time.

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"Unfortunately, Stith said, instead of giving the money to the school, the budget bill set aside $5 million for a study on whether to allow Saint Paul’s to join the Virginia College and University system." I wonder where those idiot politicians earned their degrees. I'd ask for a refund. Now there is a chance for you "journalists" to do some real investigative journalism. Have you ever heard of Paul Harvey? How about telling us the rest of the story. This is why the media sucks and newspapers don't sell anymore. You only give half of the story. Why don't we get the whole truth, as in where did that money go? Name names and tell us who got the $5 mil. Then explore the potential personal connections between those freeloaders and the politicians who spent the money.


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