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$14 million all-cash bid received for Dowling's Brookhaven campus

The Dowling College School of Aviation and athletic

The Dowling College School of Aviation and athletic fields off William Floyd Parkway in Shirley. Credit: Cahn Communications / Best Aerial Photos / Vincent Vuoto

An all-cash bid of $14 million has been submitted in the bankruptcy auction of Dowling College’s 105-acre Brookhaven campus in Shirley.

The bidder, Triple Five Aviation LLC, is a subsidiary of the Triple Five Group of Companies – the majority partner in a joint venture to redevelop 1,600 acres of the Enterprise Park at Calverton, also known as EPCAL.

The Dowling property “goes along with the overall plan that we’re looking to implement in Calverton and for the region,” Stuart Bienenstock, director of business development for Triple Five Group, said Tuesday. “We are looking to bring back aviation to the region.”

The property includes a 70-room dormitory, an athletic complex, a two-building office and classroom complex, and a 7,500-square-foot airplane hangar. It is adjacent to Brookhaven Calabro Airport and is roughly a 12-minute drive to EPCAL, Bienenstock said.

Calverton Aviation and Technology LLC, Triple Five's joint venture with Calverton-based Luminati Aerospace in the EPCAL project, intends to use the Shirley site to complement the aviation technology it hopes to develop at EPCAL, Bienenstock said.

Triple Five Group, the developer of the Mall of America in Minnesota,   has offices in the United States and Canada. Luminati is not a partner in Triple Five’s Dowling campus bid.

“The EPCAL approval process and programming is something that is going to take a certain period of time,” Bienenstock said. “The Dowling site is actually permitted and has existing structures on the site that we can start making use of immediately.” The site will be used for research and development related to advances in aviation technology, he said.

Calverton Aviation and Technology's proposed $40 million purchase of the EPCAL site has been met with concerns from residents about the venture's qualifications and eligibility to go forward with the project. The project includes the development of 1 million square feet of industrial space.

The initial auction for the Dowling property was adjourned without a winner in January, after three bidders participated with a high bid of $10.2 million. The closing of the auction was deferred several times as Dowling’s creditors and board of trustees reviewed the bids.

“It’s been a lengthier process than was originally anticipated,” Sean Southard, an attorney representing Dowling in its Chapter 11 bankruptcy proceedings, said Monday.

Dowling, in consultation with its creditor groups, plans to recommend that the bankruptcy court in Central Islip  approve the sale of the property to Triple Five at a scheduled hearing on June 4, Southard said.

“If any higher or better bids were to be received before the court’s approval, we would consider those,” he said.

Dowling ran out of funds, lost its accreditation and closed in 2016. The liberal arts college said it had $54 million in long-term debt and filed for bankruptcy protection in November 2016.

The college’s estate faced 626 claims totaling $65.8 million by creditors, vendors, college officials, faculty and staff.

Dowling’s 25-acre Oakdale campus was auctioned last year.  NCF Capital Ltd., a Hong Kong company, purchased it for $26.1 million;  

it is now owned by Mercury International LLC of Delaware, an entity affiliated with NCF.

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