Stetson University accepting offers for property in downtown Celebration

Stetson University is looking to sell its Center at Celebration academic building in the heart of the Disney master-planned community.

The DeLand-based private university has issued a call for offers for its 36,000-square-foot academic center at 800 Celebration Ave. The three-story building is right across from Celebration's K-8 school and walking distance to the Bohemian Hotel and downtown Celebration.

Stetson opened the $7.2 million semi-circular building in 2001. It was designed by New York-based Dreamer + Phillips to be a "recognizable icon" for the Celebration community with a large atrium and windows in every classroom with views of the adjacent nature preserve.

The facility offers graduate programs in business administration, marriage and family therapy, school counseling, and education, with courses in professional development for educators and information technology, as well as lifelong learning opportunities for mature adults.

CFO Bob Huth told GrowthSpotter those programs only require about 10,000 square feet, so the university is looking to liquidate the asset and reinvest the funds into its academic programs. 

"The whole idea would be to match our program needs with the space," Huth said.  

Stetson considered moving to downtown Orlando's Creative Village, or even Lake Nona, but ultimately decided to stay in Celebration. The university hopes to negotiate a lease-back arrangement with the buyer so the faculty and students don't have to relocate.

"We've looked at alternative locations, but the real direction at this time is to stay in Celebration," Huth said.

A portion of the building is currently leased to a private language school on a per-student basis, and those terms would likely have to be renegotiated, he added. 

RDIP Principal Susan Morris said the original Sept. 18 due date has been extended until this Friday. 

"We had three or four parties contact us who said they were interested but needed more time to prepare an offer," Morris said.

Class A office space in Celebration has been at a premium in the last few years with Disney expanding offices and cruise line operations. The company paid $21.8 million earlier this year to buy an office building on Celebration Place. 

Tampa-based GNP Development filed preliminary plans in the spring to build a 39,000-square-foot office building just north of the World Drive interchange, but the company has not pulled permits for the project.

Have a tip about Central Florida development? Contact me at lkinsler@GrowthSpotter.com or (407) 420-6261, or tweet me at @LKinslerOGrowth. Follow GrowthSpotter on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

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