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Dowling College Oakdale campus auctioned for $26.5 million

The winner of the Dowling College Oakdale campus auction is Princeton Education Center LLC, with the highest bid of $26.5 million, according to court documents filed Friday, April 7, 2017. The new owner will use the campus "for educational purposes," said Nancy Sterling, an outside spokeswoman for Dowling. Dowling College ran out of funds, lost its accreditation, closed in August and filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in November.  (Credit: Johnny Milano)

The winner of the Dowling College Oakdale campus auction is Princeton Education Center LLC, with the highest bid of $26.5 million, according to court documents filed Friday.

The new owner intends to operate a private K-12 school licensed by New York State, said Sean Southard, an attorney representing the Dowling estate.

Princeton Education Center couldn’t be reached for comment, and an attorney representing the company did not respond to requests for comment.

The auction of the 25-acre campus, which includes a stately Vanderbilt mansion, began with sealed bids that were due late last month. Five qualified bidders were selected to participate in an auction Tuesday in East Meadow.

The bids at the auction were higher than expected, and Dowling and its creditors requested additional documentation from the three highest bidders to determine their ability to pay.

Each of the three highest bidders, including Princeton Education Center, was an “educational end user,” court documents said. Each of the two lowest bids were made by a “redeveloper.”

Subject to court approval, Dowling and Princeton Education Center “contemplate a closing taking place during the month of May 2017,” according to court documents.

Dowling College ran out of funds, lost its accreditation and closed in August. It filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in November and said it had $54 million in long-term debt.

The college laid off about 450 faculty, and had 1,700 students. It was the first fully accredited nonprofit college on Long Island to close in recent history.

Dowling’s estate faces 626 claims totaling $65.8 million filed in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in the Eastern District of New York in Central Islip by creditors, vendors, college officials, faculty and staff.

Dowling’s 104-acre Brook haven campus, located off William Floyd Parkway in Shirley and adjacent to Brookhaven Calabro Airport, will be auctioned off separately. The campus, which was home to Dowling’s aviation program, has an athletic complex, a two-story residence hall and a 10,000-square-foot airplane hangar.

The college also owns 32 residential properties near the Oakdale campus that are part of the bankruptcy but not included in the auction. They are being sold by local real estate agents.

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