University Reaches Agreement for Campus Sale

The University announced in a release today that an agreement for the sale of the Manhattan campus has been reached through a joint venture of New York City real estate firms Fisher Brothers and The Witkoff Group.

The agreement says that St. John’s will continue its occupancy of the building until mid-2014, according to the release.

“This is an unprecedented moment in the 143-year history of St. John’s, and the impact on the University will be nothing short of transformative,” Rev. Donald J. Harrington, C.M., President of the University, said in the release.

The proceeds of $223 million from the sale will be used to “enhance the University’s academic offerings and improve facilities,” according to the release. The sale will also allow for a “significant increase in ongoing financial aid” for students. The release said that the University currently grants about $200 million in financial aid annually.

“The major infusion of capital from the sale of the property will bring our University to a new level, enabling us to continue to realize our strategic vision of investing in our students, academic programs, faculty, leading-edge technology and facilities in New York and around the globe,” Harrington said.

The initial announcement of the sale of the Manhattan campus, located on 101 Murray Street downtown, came in March, much to the dismay of students who spoke to the Torch. The announcement regarding the decision to sell was first made through a University-wide email.

Since the campus opened in 2001, it has experienced two periods of prolonged closure that forced students to take classes on the Queens campus. The first was due to the events of September 11, 2001. The campus remained closed until the spring semester in 2002. Last October, the campus sustained damage follower Superstorm Sandy and remained closed for the remainder of the fall semester.

Bloomberg News, citing a source who declined to be named, reported that the buyers intend to tear down the 10-story building and replace it with a condo project.

Both sides of the real estate partnership praised the University for the sale.

“We are proud to play a role in a transaction that further solidifies St. John’s future,” Winston Fisher, a partner in Fisher Brothers, said in the release. ”And we are dedicated to creating the highest and best use for 101 Murray, a property that is situated in the very heart of one the most dynamic mixed-use neighborhoods in the world.”

“We are very excited to be joining with the Fisher Brothers as partner and co-developer of this exceptional property, and we laud St. John’s for its vision,” said Steven Witkoff, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, The Witkoff Group.

The University is seeking another property space in Manhattan for the School of Risk Management, as well as other academic programs, in time for the start of the 2014-15 academic year, according to the release.