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August 10, 2023

With university's move to New Gloucester, 225-acre Unity campus is listed for sale

aerial of campus with buildings and lawns Courtesy / A&G Real Estate Partners Unity Environmental University’s 225-acre campus at 90 Quaker Hill Road in Unity is now listed for sale.

The relocation of Unity Environmental University — formerly Unity College — to New Gloucester means the school's original, 225-acre campus, in its namesake town, is now officially up for sale.

The private, nonprofit university has retained A&G Real Estate Partners in Melville, N.Y., to list and market the property. An asking price has not been disclosed. The campus has an assessed value of $26.8 million, much of it currently tax-exempt, according to town records for 2022.

The school recently moved its headquarters from where it has operated since 1965, at 90 Quaker Hill Road in Unity, to the Pineland Farms campus in New Gloucester, in southern Maine. 

Unity Environmental University has charted a 10-fold enrollment growth in recent years, largely due to a shift to remote and low-residence education.

The university is operating in the black and launching new degree programs, and has grown from 600 to more than 7,500 students in the past few years, with projections of 10,000 students by 2025, said Emilio Amendola, A&G’s co-president and head of the firm’s real estate sales division. 

“This summer, it welcomed about 1,000 new full-time students — its largest-ever incoming class,” he noted.

UEU President Melik Peter Khoury said the campus, about 15 miles east of Waterville, represents an opportunity for a wide array of potential users. 

person smiling
Courtesy / Unity Environmental University
Melik Peter Khoury

“It is a beautiful location, situated on 225 acres surrounded by woodlands and hills and just a short walk from downtown Unity, with an abundance of amenities,” Khoury said.

The property has nine residence halls, a heritage livestock barn, a student activities building, classrooms, laboratories, dining halls, an arts center, a library, a soccer field and cross-country trails.

The facilities have been well-maintained, said Christian Koulichkov, A&G’s managing director for real estate sales.

The buildings total over 100,000 square feet and have approximately 600 beds in all.

“Since 2012, the institution has made significant capital investments — everything from new labs and dorms, to a new cafeteria — so this property’s deferred maintenance is very low,” Koulichkov said.

Physical plant features include an off-the-grid house with solar panels and and a dorm that runs on biomass fuel.

Amendola said the presence of multiple cafeterias, along with the residences, could make the property a fit for senior housing. 

“The bucolic setting makes it the perfect place for a camp, spiritual retreat or recreational center, and the high-speed internet access and well-equipped science labs also offer the possibility of a remote research facility,” Amendola said. “It’s quite a mix.”

The potential buyer pool also includes existing educational institutions, Amendola noted. 

“By acquiring these assets in addition to the real estate, a school could be up and running with up to 600 students very quickly,” he said.

Educational shift

The potential sale of the Unity campus comes as many higher education institutions, initially shuttered by the pandemic, continue to expand their distance learning capabilities and find new uses for bricks and mortar.

Colleges and universities are frequent clients for A&G, which has handled $12 billion in real estate sales and leases related to mergers, acquisitions, restructurings and other major projects. The firm has handled transactions for Bloomfield College, ITT/Daniel Webster College, Dowling College, the College of New Rochelle, Career Education Corp. and Kaplan University.

At the onset of the pandemic, then-Unity College shifted to a mix of remote and onsite operations and reportedly considered selling the campus. But the school was buoyed by the growth of its online enrollment and expanded to New Gloucester the next year.

With the online boost, Unity jumped up in the ranks of the state's largest colleges and universities by enrollment, according to the 2023 Mainebiz Book of Lists. Unity was No. 2 this year, after ranking No. 11 in 2022. 

Unity is known for its concentration on ecological and sustainable studies and as a training ground for the Maine Warden Service. 

A revamped vision statement declares the core tenets of the institution are "dedicated to delivering quality education and experiences that produce outstanding environmentally competent professionals and inspire individuals from all walks of life to steward sustainable ecosystems.”

The name change, which has been approved by the Maine Department of Education and the New England Commission of Higher Education, is being phased in this year, with new signage, revised logos, a new tagline, webpage updates and social media posts. 

Unity's headquarters, college distance education, the Technical Institute for Environmental Professions and Sustainable Ventures are located at the physical campus at Pineland Farms.

The university's other locations include a working farm and research center in Thorndike, just outside Unity, and at Moose River in Holeb Township, not far from the Canadian border in Somerset County.

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