Colleges’ property values vary

Berkeley, Branford, Saybrook and Silliman could all be worth as much as $20 million on the open market, according to city of New Haven data. In contrast, Trumbull’s value is placed at about $7 million and Jonathan Edwards College has an estimated worth of slightly less than $10 million.

The city’s valuations of University properties are estimates that have little direct impact on Yale, which, like other Connecticut colleges and universities, does not pay taxes on land and buildings used for educational purposes. But the assessed value of Yale properties still has an impact on city budgets, since the state currently reimburses the city for almost two-thirds of the revenues lost from tax-exempt properties.

While property assessments follow set guidelines, determining the value of property that is unlikely to be placed on the market can be an inexact process, said City Assessor Terence Dinnean, whose office is responsible for estimating the value of all New Haven lots.

“Assessment or appraisal is an opinion, which is based on a variety of different factors,” Dinnean said.

New Haven revalues properties every five to 10 years, with the most recent revaluation in 2001.

According to the assessor’s office, Silliman is valued at $19,758,060, Timothy Dwight and Rosenfeld Hall at $14,284,830, Jonathan Edwards at $9,734,410 and Trumbull at $7,252,980.

In the case of other colleges, the city divides University land into uneven parcels, making it more difficult to determine the exact value of the properties. Morse and Stiles combined are valued at $33,551,000, while Saybrook and Branford together are worth $40,657,330, according to the city. Calhoun and the south court of Berkeley have an estimated value of $34,044,850 combined, while the north court of Berkeley alone is assessed at $14,746,270.

Even before its current renovations, Davenport was valued at $20,797,210 — although its residents are spending their year in a less swanky location. Swing Space is assessed at $9,372,930.

Between citywide revaluations, the assessor is also responsible for updating property values following major renovations. But since there is occasionally a brief time lag between when renovations occur and the city updates its databases, some of the publicly available valuations are outdated. Pierson, for example, is currently listed as a vacant lot worth only $821,520.

John Leary, who conducted the most recent assessment of Yale’s facilities for the city, said in an e-mail that in the mid-1990s his firm created a model to estimate the University’s property values. The model used the projected cost of the buildings and modified that information by looking at the values of office buildings and apartments in the area. The firm then “calibrated” the values by comparing them to the costs of Morse and Stiles, the most recently constructed colleges.

Leary said a major reason for the variation of the cost between some colleges was whether they had undergone recent renovations.

University Planner Pamela Delphenich said colleges tend to expand their floor space when they are refurbished, although the additional square footage can be balanced by space lost to elevators and other new elements of the buildings.

“When you add square footage, when you add to the property, you add value,” Delphenich said.

Ezra Stiles College may not be the most valuable residential college, but it is one of several properties owned by the University that are appraised every five to 10 years.
Daniel Yao
Ezra Stiles College may not be the most valuable residential college, but it is one of several properties owned by the University that are appraised every five to 10 years.

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