FGCU is extending its physical reach just a bit farther, yet again.
On Thursday, FGCU Vice President for Finance Joe Shepard confirmed that the owner of a 24.5-acre parcel to the northwest of campus has accepted an $8 million bid for the university to purchase the property. The parcel adjoins another piece of land occupied by a 500-bed apartment complex bought by the university for $17 million in July 2010.
According to the Lee County property appraiser’s website, the current owner of the land is Towne Place/UCA LLC, located in Naples and affiliated with the developer of Gulf Coast Town Center. According to real estate investment materials on the website of real estate firm CB Richard Ellis, the property was being offered at $12.1 million.
Pending approval by the FGCU Board of Trustees, the latest acquisition will give the university complete ownership of the undeveloped, landlocked parcel between Gulf Coast Town Center to the north, Ben Hill Griffin Parkway to the east, Miromar Lakes housing development to the south and Interstate 75 to the west.
Shepard said the university plans to put student housing on the newest piece of land. He estimated the university has room to add a complex accommodating 1,100 to 1,500 beds.
“It’s a strategic purchase for us because we can continue doing housing, and we don’t have to worry about another developer coming in and developing that land,” Shepard said.
Shepard said the university had been eyeing the land since it purchased College Club Apartments nearly a year ago. Since then, the university has also been working on refurbishments to the apartment complex, including enhancing the security system in line with the college’s standards, and has rebranded it Westlake Village. (Both parcels — the one with the apartment complex and the new purchase — border a roughly five-acre retention pond.)
The purchase, if approved by the FGCU Board of Trustees at its April 19 meeting, will join several other acquisitions by the university within the past year.
In January, the board approved paying market value, $3.8 million, for a 12-acre parcel abutting the university’s northwestern edge at the intersection of North Road and Ben Hill Griffin Parkway. It was previously owned by Miromar Development Corp., the developer for Miromar Lakes and shopping center Miromar Outlets.
In October, Lee County commissioners approved some land-use changes for parcels near FGCU, clearing the way for a 40-acre donation of land to FGCU by Alico Inc., the former owner of the 760 contiguous acres that make up the original FGCU campus. Those 40 acres adjoin the campus’ northeastern edge.
Roughly half of FGCU’s acreage on the original campus is set aside for environmental preservation.
The 40 acres donated to the university, like the pending purchase, are being looked at for expanding student housing. Those 40 acres sit among a 939-acre parcel of former mining land, bought at auction by Alico last year.
Connect with higher education reporter Leslie Williams Hale at www.naplesnews.com/staff/leslie_hale/.