Realtor gives AU-sale report

By Mac Overton

BIG SANDY, Texas--The sale of Ambassador University's property at Big Sandy to LaRoche College, Pittsburgh, Pa., hasn't closed but is still pending, according to Bill Vaughan of Grubb & Ellis, the real-estate brokerage handling the sale.

Mr. Vaughan discussed the transaction with The Journal on June 14.

LaRoche, a private Catholic college operated by the Sisters of Divine Providence, signed a contract for the 2,500-acre property early last year and has been working out details since then, said Mr. Vaughan.

The Worldwide Church of God of Pasadena, Calif., which owns the property, closed it as an accredited institution of higher learning in 1997 after declining enrollment and decreased church membership left the church unable to continue subsidizing the campus.

The Big Sandy campus, which opened in 1964, was the last of three Ambassador campuses to close.

A sister campus in Bricket Wood, England, closed in 1974, and the parent campus at church headquarters in Pasadena was consolidated with the Big Sandy campus in 1990.

Mr. Vaughan said LaRoche is working to secure necessary approvals for the sale, which will primarily serve students from underdeveloped and war-torn countries.

"It's just such a complicated deal," Mr. Vaughan said. "There's a huge amount of money at risk."

He said LaRoche is trying to obtain approval from the federal government and foreign governments to be able to accommodate foreign students.

LaRoche had hoped to be able to open the campus this fall, but Mr. Vaughan said he doesn't think the deal will close soon enough for that to happen. "They may be able to start in January," he said.

LaRoche's President William Kerr did not return The Journal's phone calls before the deadline for this issue.

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