By Lola Duffort/VTDigger
The Heritage Credit Union now owns the former College of St. Joseph campus.
The bank moved to foreclose on the property in January, according to CEO Matt Levandowski, and the school surrendered the deed over to Heritage on Tuesday, Feb. 25.
The school had an outstanding balance with the bank of $4.5 million.
“It was time. They just didn’t have any money left. We needed to move this forward,” Levandowski said.
The small Rutland college has been shuttered since May. It announced last year that it would cease operations as a degree-granting institution after its dismal finances caused the New England Commission of Higher Education to withdraw its accreditation. It was one of four schools to shutter or merge in Vermont last year as the state’s institutions of higher education contend with a dwindling number of students.
But CSJ leaders had hoped for a second life as an “innovation hub.” They had teamed up with the Vermont Innovation Commons to pitch a plan to reopen as the CSJ Center for Excellence and Innovation to offer certificate programs, workforce training, co-working spaces, and support for start-ups.
The hope had been to entice investors using federal Opportunity Zone tax breaks. But Levandowski said those investors just weren’t materializing fast enough.
The credit union now plans to subdivide the property to sell it. Levandowski said the city of Rutland, which is currently leasing the school’s gym, might be interested in purchasing the former school’s recreation facilities. And there’s also interest in using another part of the campus to host a senior care facility.
“I want that campus to be a vibrant community. Not just vacant land,” he said.
Heritage will have competition on the market. The campuses of the former Green Mountain College in Poultney, Southern Vermont College in Bennington, and Marlboro College are also looking for buyers.