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Northwestern Acquires Seabury Seminary Buildings, Land

Use of residential and classroom facilities will continue.

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July 17, 2009
EVANSTON, Ill. --- Northwestern University has purchased the buildings and land owned by Seabury-Western Theological Seminary in Evanston, officials from the University and Seminary announced today (July 17). Some of the buildings are on land already owned by Northwestern that had been leased to Seabury; the remainder of the land is adjacent to the Northwestern-owned property.

The property encompasses the block bounded by Sheridan Road on the east, Orrington Avenue on the west, Haven Street on the north and Garrett Place on the south, with the exception of two houses that are not currently owned by Northwestern or Seabury. Northwestern already owns more than half of the land. All of the land purchased already is exempt from property taxes.

Northwestern has no plans to propose changes in zoning, which governs the use of the buildings, said Eugene S. Sunshine, Northwestern’s senior vice president for business and finance. Those buildings that are currently used for classrooms, offices and other academic purposes will continue to be used in that manner. Buildings used for residential and related purposes will continue to be used for those purposes, Sunshine said.

Northwestern students have been living in one of the residence halls on the property since last March when Seabury leased a portion of one of its residential buildings to the University. That use will continue next fall, and Northwestern students eventually will occupy the other residence hall as well.

Northwestern will lease back a portion of the administrative building and residential buildings to Seabury, which is changing from a residential-based seminary with full-time students to offering degrees and courses through short residential and online courses.

“With this agreement, we’re doing several important things,” said the Very Reverend Gary Hall, Seabury’s president and dean. “We’re positioning ourselves for a new mission as the People’s Seminary, meeting the demands of a changing world and church, providing flexible education to all -- clergy, church professionals, lay community and congregations. In addition, the sale allows us to eliminate our debt, balance our budget so that we will enter our new life with adequate resources to fund our ministries,” he said.

“We’re very pleased to have worked out this arrangement with Seabury for acquisition of the property and its continued use for the same purposes,” Sunshine said. “This will provide the University with contiguous space needed for academic and residential uses without having to acquire land that is currently on the property tax rolls.”