AU administration has begun negotiations with brokers about the possible sale or lease of AU’s space in the Enterprise Flagship center, located off of exit 222 in Anderson. AU has owned space in the Enterprise Flagship Center, called the Anderson University Flagship Center (AUFC), for about 10 years.
“As part of our strategic pivot for our centennial, we’re looking at ways that we can best position ourselves for our second century of service, ways that we can be distinctive and compelling, really focus on our core mission of Christian liberal arts undergraduate, with certain graduate programs, and educate for a life of faith and service in the church and society,” said President John Pistole.
According to the Flagship Enterprise Center’s website, it acts as a “regional incubator and advanced-stage business center supported by the City of Anderson, Anderson University, Purdue University, IVY Tech Community College, the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), the Indiana Economic Development Corporation (IEDC), the U.S. Department of Commerce Economic Development Administration (EDA) and many others.”
10 years ago, the university incurred bond debt in order to purchase the space. The space has been utilized to hold conferences and house RMBA students. However, while AU is looking to re-stabilize its financial standing, the building is an expense. “We make semi-annual payments on the space, so by selling, it would reduce our debt,” said Pistole.
AU currently houses its residential MBA program in the Anderson University Flagship Center, and hosts occasional programming in the building. The RMBA housing within AUFC has a maximum capacity of 19 students. Administration is looking at opportunities to move the RMBA housing closer to campus,
with an interest in expanding the program.
“Looking at the future of that program, which we want to grow, we realize that because it is residential, it’s limited to the space that is in the third floor of AUFC,” Pistole said. “We looked at some opportunities in and around campus to house that cohort, and made a strategic decision that if we could move the Residential MBA in, that would free up the space for us to perhaps lease or sell the AUFC building, especially with Purdue Polytechnic moving out into their own building on Scatterfield.”
For AU, the cost of building more apartments within AUFC is great enough to prompt discussion of moving the program on campus. Pistole believes this could results in benefits for the program specifically in the aspect of community inclusion.
“I think, by bringing the program on campus, we’d get better synergy with campus community, and we can expand the residential MBA program beyond the 19-student max.”
Overall, motivation for looking into other options for the AUFC space is threefold.
“The combination of three things: our centennial strategic pivot, where we’re going with RMBA growth possibilities, and Purdue moving out, led me to the decision that we should look at the option of selling or leasing the space,” Pistole said. “That’s where we are now—in the process of starting to market it and starting to talk in terms of different brokers, how they would market it.”
The sale or lease of the AUFC would allow AU to invest in the campus, with the area of focus zeroed in toward matters close to home. “That’s the overall picture on it,” said Pistole. “We’d have some more flexibility. It’s a fixed cost, and the assessment was that unless we have a compelling need to keep it, let’s look at selling or doing a long-term lease on it.”
Administration discussed sale or lease with Church of God ministries, but the space available was not vast enough for what the headquarters needs.
“When [AUFC] was being envisioned, I think it was with the best of intentions, but it just hasn’t developed as those folks hoped it would.”
As the university is currently in negotiations with brokers, the process of the sale or lease of the space is still in the early stages.
“Maybe, if we don’t find a seller for the right price or a long-term lease, we’ll look at other ways we can utilize the space,” Pistole said. “It’s all about being the best stewards of the resources we have. I don’t see us as being a real estate business, yet we own real estate. It seems to be a distraction from our core mission.”
“[AUFC] is an asset, but I don’t see the mission of Anderson University as being a real estate agent,” Pistole said. “We’re a landlord and things like that, but that’s not our core mission. Our mission is to educate students to go out and do great things in the world.”