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December 20, 2011 | last updated December 21, 2011 7:49 am

Husson looking to expand in Portland

Husson University has a purchase-and-sale agreement to buy the Elks Lodge on Congress Street in Portland for more than $2 million. Husson University Provost Lynne Coy-Ogan said the university wants to increase enrollment in southern Maine from about 300 students to 500 and own its own facility.

The $2.05 million sale of the building and 6.9-acre parcel at 1945 Congress St. is contingent on the city rezoning the area, according to public documents filed with the city. The Bangor-based private university paid a $2,000 processing fee to ask the city to consider rezoning the area to add "college, university, trade school" to allowed uses so it could tear down the meeting space and build classrooms.

The school currently leases a location at 220 Maine Mall Road in South Portland. It has offered undergraduate and graduate classes in the Greater Portland area for 15 years, Coy-Ogan says. The university also has a satellite campus in Presque Isle.

Coy-Ogan says Husson will continue to offer its current programs here, which include undergraduate and graduate business courses, counseling programs, nursing programs and others. Coy-Ogan says the university attracts many non-traditional students -- that is, working adults as opposed to recent high school graduates.

The Portland Lodge No. 188 of Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks is across the street from the Portland International Jetport's main entrance. Coy-Ogan says this location is attractive because of its high traffic flow and visibility, helped by the recent expansion of the jetport, as well as its proximity to I-295 and I-95. The roughly seven acres also includes parking and the option to landscape the area for more of a campus feel, according to Coy-Ogan. If the deal works out, Husson will knock down the current structure and build anew. She did not have projected investment costs.

And if the deal doesn't work out, Coy-Ogan says Husson will continue its search for a property in the area.

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