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St. John’s University looks to sell 170-acre Oakdale campus

The exterior of the Bourne Mansion on St.

The exterior of the Bourne Mansion on St. John's University's Oakdale campus, seen in an undated photo. Credit: Newsday / Karen Wiles Stabile

St. John’s University has put its 170-acre Oakdale property on the market for an unspecified amount of money, according to university officials and brokers on the sale.

The university hired the commercial real estate firm, Cushman & Wakefield, to market and broker the sale, the firm announced Thursday.

A date will be set in the near future to accept offers on the property, a spokeswoman for the firm said.

The private, nonprofit Queens-based university has owned the Oakdale site at 500 Montauk Hwy. since 1999. The campus has been used for graduate teacher education and certificate programs, and as a venue for various conferences and events.

The move follows a recent decision by the university’s board of trustees to put the property on the market.

“We are continuing to explore all future options regarding our Oakdale site. Our current graduate degree offerings at our Oakdale campus will not be affected and will run as normal. We remain committed to serving the Eastern Long Island community,” said Dominic Scianna, associate vice president for external relations at St. John’s, in an emailed statement Thursday.

University officials declined Thursday to answer questions about the sale.

The property consists of 11 buildings with an extensive lawn and sweeping views of the Great South Bay, tree-lined walkways and ivy-covered brick. The centerpiece is the Bourne Mansion, a Georgian-style mansion built in 1897. The site was originally the waterfront estate for Frederick G. Bourne, president of the Singer Sewing Machine Co.

In 1926, it was sold to the De La Salle Christian Brothers. For many years, it was the home of the LaSalle Military Academy, a private boys school that ultimately became a kindergarten-through-high school global learning community.

St. John’s originally bought the property for $14.3 million in 1999, according to Suffolk County property records.

The university invested more than $10 million in renovating classrooms, laboratories and other buildings there, according to Cushman & Wakefield.

The Bourne Mansion is a popular wedding and events venue to which Great River-based Lessing’s Inc. has exclusive rights.

“We have a long-term, 25-year lease that is unaffected by who the landlord is,” chief operating officer Michael Lessing said Thursday when asked about the deal.

According to brokers, current zoning allows both continued school use and residential construction on the property.

The site’s attributes make it prime for a multitude of potential additional uses that could include health and wellness, recreation and entertainment, according to the firm.

“We anticipate interest from a broad range of prospects,” said Brian Whitmer of Cushman & Wakefield’s Metropolitan Area Capital Market Group, based in East Rutherford, New Jersey.

“The waterfront location, expansive bay views, large parcel size, frontage on the Sunrise Highway and availability of existing structures for repurposing make this a truly rare and unique opportunity given the scarcity of comparable sites on Long Island.”

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