Concordia College New York

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  1. Closure and sale to Iona College
  2. LCEF mortgage agreements
  3. Property sales
  4. Footnotes

Closure and sale to Iona College

On January 28, 2021, Concordia College New York (CCNY) announced that it would close at the end of the summer term and sell its Bronxville campus to Iona College, making it the third Concordia to close since 2019.[1]

In a joint statement, Iona said it would use Concordia’s campus to develop its health sciences programs.[2, 3] Several months later, in July of 2021, Iona announced a $20 million gift from NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital to establish the NewYork-Presbyterian Iona School of Health Sciences on the former Concordia campus.[4]

On October 4, 2021, CCNY submitted to the Westchester County Supreme Court a petition to sell its main campus to Iona for $30 million.[5] According to the petition, most of the proceeds from the sale will go to paying off CCNY’s debt to the Lutheran Church–Extension Fund (LCEF), which exceeds $25 million.

The petition identified the LCEF as CCNY’s “only significant secured creditor”, saying its outstanding loans were “secured by first mortgage liens recorded in the Westchester County Clerk’s Office against the Petitioner’s Campus Real Estate.”

On October 20, 2021, two weeks after Concordia filed its petition to sell its campus to Iona, 27 former faculty and staff members filed an objection with the Court seeking to hold up the sale.[6] They claimed the $30 million sale price was artificially low and asked the Court to schedule an evidentiary hearing to determine its fair market value. The Court is still considering their objection.

LCEF mortgage agreements

CCNY and the LCEF signed a series of mortgage agreements between 2006 and 2020. In each agreement, CCNY posted as collateral different combinations of its main campus properties at 171, 182, 187, and 193 White Plains Road in order to get financing from the LCEF.

CCNY continued to sign mortgage agreements with the LCEF in 2021, after the school announced it would close and sell its campus to Iona. All of these agreements added additional layers of LCEF security over CCNY’s main campus property, and extended the LCEF’s secured interests to additional properties that weren’t included in the pre-2021 mortgages.

On February 23, 2021, CCNY president John Nunes signed a $2.95 million mortgage with the LCEF, which in exchange gave the LCEF a secured interest in 15 properties on- and off-campus.[7] This mortgage covered the four main campus properties (at 171, 182, 187, and 193 White Plains Road), as well as 11 additional properties that don’t appear in any prior agreements.

On the same day, Nunes signed four mortgage modification agreements which “spread” prior mortgages from 2014, 2017, 2018, and 2019 over the same 15 on- and off-campus properties. CCNY did not receive anything in consideration for spreading these mortgages over its additional properties.

The properties newly covered in the 2021 mortgage agreements are a combination of land, athletic fields, and off-campus housing. All of these properties have since been sold, are under contract, or are included in the proposed campus sale to Iona as outlined in CCNY’s petition to the Westchester County Supreme Court.

Properties owned and sold (or under contract) by Concordia College New York as of 2021

Property sales

CCNY originally stated that it would sell its campus to Iona at the end of 2021 summer term. However, it did not submit its petition to sell the main campus property until October 4, and as of now it still has not sold the campus to Iona.

CCNY did manage to sell several off-campus houses in August and September of 2021. New York State law says that non-profit organizations can execute smaller transactions like this without prior review by the Attorney General or New York State Supreme Court.[8]

On August 31, CCNY sold three houses at 16 Hobart Street, 225 White Plains Road, and 230 White Plains Road to three different LLCs for a combined $2 million.[9, 10, 11] Two weeks later, on September 16, it sold another house at 205 White Plains Road to a fourth LLC for $999,000, narrowly avoiding the “mansion tax” New York State imposes on real estate purchases over $1 million.[12] The LLCs which bought these four houses all list the same address on the sale deeds, and filings made with the New York Secretary of State suggest all four LLCs are run by Gregory Holcombe, whose children attended The Chapel School on CCNY’s campus years ago.

A Bronxville Review Press article from 2003 recognized Greg Holcombe’s work with the Chapel School

Another home at 214 Midland Avenue in Tuckahoe sold on September 29 for $500,000 to an individual named Laidon Zekaj.[13] Zekaj works for Batska Consulting Group, a construction services firm that lists among its clients NewYork-Presbyterian Lawrence Hospital in Bronxville, as well as other NewYork-Presbyterian hospitals in New York City.[14, 15] The property next-door, at 212 Midland Avenue, is also under contract for $495,000.

Footnotes

1] CCNY. “Concordia College New York to Close.” January 28, 2021.
2] CCNY. “Joint Statement from Concordia College New York and Iona College.” January 28, 2021.
3] Iona College. “Iona College Announces New Bachelor of Science Degree Program in Nursing.” May 20, 2020.
4] Iona College. “Iona College and NewYork-Presbyterian Announce the Creation of the NewYork-Presbyterian Iona School of Health Sciences.” July 22, 2021.
5] State of New York, Supreme Court, County of Westchester. In the Matter of the Application of Concordia College, Petitioner, for Leave to Sell Real Property. “Verified Petition.” October 4, 2021.
6] State of New York, Supreme Court, County of Westchester. In the Matter of the Application of Concordia College, Petitioner, for Leave to Sell Real Property. “Memorandum of Law in Support of Concordia Faculty and Staff Objections.” October 20, 2021.
7] Office of the Westchester County Clerk. Commercial Real Estate Mortgage between Concordia College and Lutheran Church Extension Fund–Missouri Synod. Document dated March 1, 2021.
8] Office of the New York State Attorney General, Charities Bureau. A Guide to Sales and Disposition of Assets by Not-for-Profit Corporations. December 2018. p. 4.
9] Office of the Westchester County Clerk. Bargain and Sale Deed. “16 Hobart Street.” Document dated August 31, 2021.
10] Office of the Westchester County Clerk. Bargain and Sale Deed. “225 White Plains Road.” Document dated August 31, 2021.
11] Office of the Westchester County Clerk. Bargain and Sale Deed. “230 White Plains Road.” Document dated August 31, 2021.
12] Office of the Westchester County Clerk. Bargain and Sale Deed. “205 White Plains Road.” Document dated September 16, 2021.
13] Office of the Westchester County Clerk. Online Deed Record. Document dated October 22, 2021.
14] Batska Consulting Group. “Laidon Zekaj.” Accessed October 27, 2021.
15] Batska Consulting Group. “Portfolio.” Accessed October 27, 2021.