'Property comes very slowly and at a high price': The expansion of Belmont University
Belmont University wants to buy a house just off campus that recently was put up for sale at an asking price of $2 million.
“We certainty are interested in acquiring it and they know that,” said Jason Rogers, Belmont’s lawyer and executive vice president for external engagement.
Belmont has spent millions of dollars since 2018 on properties it plans to develop, according to public records. The university currently owns all the properties on the block between Bernard and Compton avenues except for three, including the one for sale.
The house at 1501 Bernard Ave. is a 2,196 square foot home built in 1925, according to public record. The house is currently owned by a trust. One of the members of the trust sold another property on Bernard Avenue to Belmont in 2019 for $975,000.
Rogers said that he has known the sellers of this home for the past 20 years. It’s relationships like these, he said, that help local homeowners ultimately decide to sell to Belmont.
Another reason Rogers gave for why these homeowners chose to sell to Belmont is because it offers good terms.
“They know that they can get a really good price for their property. They know that we will purchase a property without any contingencies,” he said.
If Belmont does buy this property, it must wait to develop it until it owns the whole block. And even if Belmont owns it all, the university does not currently have a plan to develop them, said Steve Lasley, vice president of finance and operations.
Houses that Belmont buys but cannot use are rented out, Lasley said.
“It's not a big money-making venture. The houses that we buy are typically in pretty poor shape, so they require a lot of maintenance. A lot of our money in those houses goes to just keeping them maintained for the rental,” said Lasley.
Even though there are no specific plans for what 1501 Bernard Ave. could become, Lasley knows what Belmont needs going forward. The university is in “desperate need” of more housing, he said.
Belmont senior Molly Wing said that she thinks Belmont needs more parking space.
But these projects might have to wait. Lasley said that construction is going to “slow down” moving forward.
One of the causes he points to is the cost of construction, which he said has increased about 25% recently.
Another cause of the potential slowdown is the time it takes for Belmont to buy all the property needed. Lasley and Rogers both said that many of the homeowners Belmont interacts with are older and have lived here for decades, which makes them less likely to want to move.
“Property comes very slowly and at a high price,” said Lasley.
One potential benefit of less construction would be that some of the headaches it causes might be alleviated.
“The noise can be a little bit frustrating for sure,” said Wing.
The constant construction has also been psychologically draining for some students.
“It hasn’t felt like it’s stayed the same,” said senior Carter Eggert. “I feel like sometimes settling down for a little bit would be nice as well. I feel like it's just always been in a constant state of flux with how comfortable I am.”
This article was written by Luke Ayers.