College selling properties across the Chestertown community

By Victoria Gill

Opinion Editor

Washington College is making changes in property ownership, both with residential and unused land.

According to the administration, the College purchased real estate over the last 10 to 20 years to invest in. It was later found that this real estate does not contribute to the strategy or core mission of the College, according to President Kurt Landgraf.

Landgraf said in a recent interview that the College sold the land because “we do not have a strategic reason to keep [it].”

Decisions on purchasing and selling real estate are made by the president and overseen by the Board of Visitors & Governors.

Five out of seven residential homes on Washington Avenue were sold, according to President Landgraf.

The five residential properties that were sold are 102, 134, and 148 Prospect Street; 310 College Avenue; and 301 Washington Avenue.

309 and 500 Washington Avenue are two new properties on the market, and are expected to be sold within the next year.

According to Wendy Clarke, director of college communication, there are two main benefits to selling these properties. It eliminates expenses to own and maintain them and obtain profit to support the central operation of the College.

The LaMotte land, located on the opposite corner of Walgreens, was sold as well. This large property, which includes Stepne Farm, was purchased by investors and corporations. Residential properties were sold to individuals, and there are no connections between the buyers and the College.

The LaMotte property is well-situated for commercial development and was originally purchased for investment purposes.

Since the Stepne Farm property sits in the endowment, the proceeds would remain there to be reinvested into the market. The other sales are used for strategic initiatives to support the College.

Overall, the included properties sold for about $10 million.

Including changes in facilities, the Office of College Advancement’s offices are being consolidated from three to two houses. They will be moving to the Alumni House.

According to Clarke, this is an opportunity to be more efficient in terms of space and encourage collaboration.

“It is challenging when your team is separated,” Susie Chase, vice president of advancement, said. “[Each day is] always different. My day is really depending on what is going on. I work with a team of 20 people who are responsible for raising the revenue.”

According to the WC website, the Office of College Advancement creates and sustains connections with alumni, parents, and friends to secure their support as donors, volunteers, and advisers to implement the mission of WC.

Chase said she understands the strategic plan in the land sales. The revenue will be put towards student scholarships and experiences, faculty salaries, and fiscal plans. Her time working for the College is reinvesting back into the alma mater that she believes in.

“I want people to support a historical institution that has been educating citizen leaders since the close of the revolutionary world and one of the best liberal arts colleges in the country,” Chase said.

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