Over the past 30 years, Belmont University has acquired property for future development and expansion, and now owns 94 properties in the neighborhoods surrounding campus.
The properties are owned by Belmont Real Estate Holdings LLC I and II, Belmont University and some older properties still listed under Belmont College, according to publicly available property maps.
While on-campus space has become a valuable commodity to students and other Belmont organizations with enrollment at an all-time high, Vice President of University Counsel Jason Rogers said there are no plans yet for expansion out into the neighborhoods.
Along with being the chief lawyer of the university, Rogers is also in charge of purchasing properties through the LLCs.
“The potential for redevelopment requires a lot of land contiguous to each other,” Rogers said. “And until that is able to happen, the university is not able to develop that for a university purpose.”
Belmont needs more properties next to each other and then have the metro council re-district the land before any development can start, Rogers said.
The two Belmont Real Estate Holdings are limited liability companies with Belmont as the only member. They are in charge of renting out the residential buildings the university owns and purchasing new properties, said Rogers.
The university makes about $200,000 a year from rentals on 15th and 12th avenues to tenants, Vice President for Finance and Operations Steve Lasley said. All the proceeds go back to the educational mission of the university, Rogers said.
While the university does not approach residents in the neighborhood to try and buy their homes, Rogers does send mailers out when imposters try to scoop up land.
“From time to time we will get word that there are people out there in the community misrepresenting themselves as agents of Belmont, when really they are speculators,” Rogers said. “They are trying to do it, get a property, flip it to Belmont and basically deny the property owner the full investment in their own property.”
While there are no plans to tear down current buildings, existing structures have been repurposed for university use.
Before the university purchased the mail center in 2006 for $650,000, it was a BYOB nightclub called Hair of the Dog that the Acklen neighborhood did not appreciate. There were complaints of loud heavy metal music and disorderly conduct, Rogers said. Eventually, the neighbors approached Belmont for a solution.
“They came to us and asked us to buy that property from the person who owned it because the nightclub was just the tenant,” Rogers said.
Rogers said there have been significant improvements in the neighborhood between 15th and 12th since the university started purchasing properties in 2004.
“The rate of crime has gone down and property values have gone up,” Rogers said.
Belmont also purchased the Bass Street Missionary Baptist Church on 12th for $1.75 million over the summer and has no current plans to repurpose it.
Rogers said the philosophy of purchasing adjacent land is what made the Dickens, Kennedy, Baskin, WAC and almost all other recent expansion possible, and that purchasing more land is a continuation of that thinking.
“At every point in its history, people in leadership positions at Belmont have been looking out for the future of the university and acquiring property. We wouldn’t be where we are today had people not had the foresight decades and decades ago,” Rogers said.
Below is a map of Belmont’s current real estate holdings in the adjacent neighborhoods to the university. This map was compiled using publicly available property listings and is made up of all address coded with Belmont College, Belmont University, Belmont Real Estate Holdings LLC I and Belmont Real Estate Holdings LLC II.
Riley Wallace contributed to this report.