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Dowling College files for Chapter 11, will sell its campuses

Dowling College filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection

Dowling College filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection Tuesday, Nov. 29, 2016, in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in the Eastern District of New York, and said in the filing that it will sell properties including its two campuses. Photo Credit: Johnny Milano

Dowling College filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection Tuesday in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in the Eastern District of New York, and said in the filing that it will sell properties including its two campuses.

The private liberal arts college, which had $54 million in long-term debt, ran out of funds and closed in August. It laid off about 450 faculty and had 1,700 students.

Dowling’s two campuses include a 25-acre historic waterfront property in Oakdale, incorporating the former W.K. Vanderbilt Estate.

The other campus sits on a more than 100-acre parcel of land in Shirley.

In addition, the college owns 32 residential properties and other land holdings in Oakdale and Mastic.

Initially, college officials had announced the school would close on May 31, but postponed closure dates twice as they unsuccessfully sought affiliation agreements with a United Kingdom-based educational investment firm.

The 48-year-old college granted its last degrees to eligible students in August.

Dowling’s accreditation was withdrawn at the end of August by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

It’s not unusual for businesses to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection after business operations have ceased, said Marc L. Hamroff, a bankruptcy attorney and partner at Moritt Hock & Hamroff, which has an office in Garden City.

“A Chapter 11 is often filed to prepare for an orderly liquidation of assets as opposed to a liquidation conducted by a trustee,” Hamroff said.

“Even though the business was closed, it doesn’t mean the assets aren’t valuable still,” he said.

A&G Realty Partners, a Melville-based commercial real estate consulting firm, and Madison Hawk Partners of Manhattan have been retained to sell Dowling’s two campuses — excluding dormitory facilities in Shirley — as part of the college’s bankruptcy filing.

Andy Graiser, co-president of A&G, whose firm has previously handled real estate asset sales for Sports Authority after it filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in March, said the locations represent a “terrific redevelopment opportunity” for potential bidders.

With Candice Ferrette

CORRECTION: Dowling is located on the Connetquot River. Its location was incorrect in a previous version of this story.

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