School of Nursing building purchased

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The Yale School of Nursing has purchased the building in which it currently resides, creating permanent housing for the historically mobile institution.

Officials from the Nursing School Office of the Dean and the Yale Office of New Haven and State Affairs closed a $33 million deal for 100 Church St. South, the site of New Haven’s former Richard C. Lee High School. The Nursing School has occupied the space since June 1996, renting the property from the Newton, Mass.-based family partnership Church Street Development Associates.

The deal was a quiet one; some nursing school faculty and staff said they were not told by officials about the building’s change of ownership. But for current Nursing School administrators, the ownership agreement creates an opportunity that they have never had under their tenure: Because the Nursing School now owns the property, it can aggressively push expansion of its facilities in future years, a move that would be in line with the University’s initiatives to bolster its commitment to the sciences.

Yet as the national economy continues to plummet and Yale’s endowment dropped 25 percent since June 30, some trustees have raised eyebrows about the decision to buy now.

“The 10 acres of property on which the building and parking sit, a rather large assemblage of land, [will be] available for future development, something of which … the officers and trustees are mindful,” said ONHSA Vice President Bruce Alexander ’65.

He added that any development can only happen “in the distant future, but not in the near term.”

One hundred Church St. South is the second permanent building for the Nursing School, which took root 86 years ago at 310 Cedar St. After residing on a single floor in the building for 55 years, the school moved to its first permanent building at 855 Howard Ave. In 1990, the school moved to a temporary location on Park Street before entering 100 Church St. South in June 1996.

The purchase “makes economic sense for the University,” ONHSA Associate Vice President Michael Morand ’87 DIV ’93 said in an e-mail.

Other tenants are leasing space from the property, which is still, “at this point,” taxable property — unlike other Yale-owned property.

Top nursing school officials said they are excited about what they can do now with the purchased land.

“We are thrilled with the possibilities, and planning is underway,” said Nursing School Dean and Annie Goodrich Professor of Nursing Margaret Gray ’76 in an e-mail statement provided by Nursing School spokesman John Powers.

Powers added that the development is recent and it is too early to determine what effects ownership of the building will have on academics and laboratory space.

Despite the faltering economy, Yale moved quickly to purchase the property. Church Street Development Associates had placed the building on the market only about two months ago, and the University swooped in to buy, offering $33,250,000 and completing the agreement Nov. 26, according to town clerk records.

Alexander said the University had a “right of last refusal” on the purchase of the land and thus “exercised [the right] so that we could control the property on behalf of the School of Nursing.” Under a right of last refusal, a party in the lease agreement has a limited amount of time after the property is put on the market to offer a price to buy it.

Andrew Gosman, who signed the agreement on behalf of the Church Street Development Associates, did not respond to a voice mail message Friday.

Although history portrays the nursing school as a mobile educational facility, another recent Nursing School purchase hints that the school may stay put. University officials paid $1 million for a nearby parking lot from Hamstead Properties LLC, the New Haven Independent reported last month. The land, located on Prince Street, will remain as parking space.

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