Orange County Business Journal

OC Lesson Plan: Colleges Are Buying in Spectrum

Chapman, CSUF, Brandman Stake Claims in Business Center Mark Mueller Saturday, August 24, 2013
Satellite campus: Cal State Fullerton paid $30.5 million for two Irvine buildings

Satellite campus: Cal State Fullerton paid $30.5 million for two Irvine buildings

The purchase came about three years after Chapman bought another Spectrum building on Laguna Canyon Road for close to $20 million.

The 115,000-square-foot office is occupied by Chapman’s sister institution, Brandman University, which serves adult learners.

Expansion

Chapman’s real estate eye looks beyond the Spectrum.

A growth plan it approved nearly 20 years ago led it to snap up a variety of homes, offices and other buildings in the blocks surrounding its main campus in Orange.

It’s a strategy similar to one another private school, the University of Southern California, has undertaken around its main campus in Los Angeles, Woolf noted.

USC “owns everything nearby (its campus). They both want to expand their home base,” he said.

Chapman reportedly owns nearly 90 acres of property altogether in and around its main campus. Its recent deals included some unconventional purchases.

In June, it closed on the purchase of the Quality Suites Anaheim Stadium, a 104-room hotel in Orange just off the Santa Ana (I-5) Freeway.

It’s converting the 3101 W. Chapman Ave. property into student housing and renamed the hotel Panther Village. It plans to open the complex to about 240 students in the fall.

A price for the hotel, which sits about 2.5 miles from the school’s main campus and about half a mile from the Outlets at Orange shopping center, wasn’t disclosed. CoStar Group Inc. records show the property’s assessed value last year at about $9.2 million.

In 2011, Chapman also took a stab at buying the Crystal Cathedral complex in Garden Grove, which it planned to develop as its health sciences campus, but Orange County’s Catholic archdiocese ultimately purchased the property.

Chapman opted to instead set up the health sciences campus in the Spectrum.

For-Profit, Different Focus

Some of the region’s universities have aggressively bought real estate, but others have stuck with renting.

In general, for-profit schools, such as Santa Ana-based Corinthian Colleges Inc., “don’t like to own,” CBRE’s Woolf said. Much of that comes down to government regulations that effectively penalize real estate ownership for those schools when calculating the amount of federal assistance their students can receive.

For-profits “shun ownership,” Woolf said.

That pattern plays out in the case of Corinthian Colleges, one of the country’s largest for-profit, post-secondary education companies in the U.S. and Canada.

The total square footage of Corinthian’s properties was approximately 5.5 million square feet last year.

The school leases all but four of its facilities, including its headquarters at the Griffin Towers office complex. Most of the leases have primary terms of between five and 10 years, according to regulatory filings.

In 2009, Corinthian made a deal with Chicago-based brokerage Jones Lang LaSalle to handle its tenant representation, project management, facility management and lease administration services.

Last year, Corinthian completed sale-leaseback transactions for campuses it picked up through the 2010 acquisition of San Francisco-based competitor Heald College. The move raised nearly $40 million.

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