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Dowling College campus auction adjourned without a winner

The auction for the Dowling College main campus

The auction for the Dowling College main campus in Oakdale was adjourned on Tuesday, April 4, 2017, without choosing a winning bid. The photo from March 23, 2017 shows of the house, Idle Hour, from the former Vanderbilt estate on the campus. Photo Credit: Johnny Milano

The auction of Dowling College’s 25-acre Oakdale campus was adjourned Tuesday without choosing a winner, after bids came in higher than creditors of the bankrupt college expected, an attorney for Dowling’s estate said.

The three highest bidders will submit information to verify that they have the financial resources to fulfill their bids, said Sean C. Southard, the attorney.

The highest bid at the auction Tuesday, held in East Meadow, was $26.5 million; the bidders’ names weren’t disclosed. The winner must be confirmed by the estate and creditors.

“We were very pleased with the results of the auction,” said Southard, of Klestadt Winters Jureller Southard & Stevens in New York City. He called Tuesday’s bidding “spirited.”

Five bidders participated, including educational and real estate organizations, he said. The starting bid was $9 million.

“The debtor and the banks and the creditors can’t make a decision until they have comfort that the bidders can close,” said Emilio Amendola, co-president of Melville-based A&G Realty Partners. A&G Realty and Madison Hawk Partners of Manhattan were selected to market the Oakdale property. Adjourning without a winner is “a common occurrence when the value goes up as much as it did,” Amendola said.

Dowling ran out of funds, lost its accreditation and closed in August. It filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in November.

The sale could bring substantial change to Oakdale, where the liberal arts school’s main campus has been the anchoring presence since 1968. The campus features an immense former Vanderbilt mansion, and is one of the few large tracts of undeveloped waterfront acreage along the Connetquot River.

The auction will help pay off 626 claims totaling $65.8 million filed by creditors, vendors, college officials, faculty and staff, in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in the Eastern District of New York.

Dowling College said last year that it had $54 million in long-term debt. It laid off about 450 faculty, and had 1,700 students.

It was Long Island’s first fully accredited nonprofit college in recent history to close.

Dowling’s 104-acre Brookhaven campus, located off William Floyd Parkway in Shirley and abutting Brookhaven Calabro Airport, will be auctioned off separately. The campus was home to Dowling’s aviation program, and 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.

Many of those properties are occupied by tenants who are unaffiliated with the college.

The auction was hosted by Certilman Balin Adler & Hyman.

With Candice Ferrette

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