By Kaitlyn McCormick
Westminster Foundation President Constance Fee released a statement to the foundation’s Facebook page on Sept. 6, updating the community about a potential buyer for the Princeton campus property who may be able to help achieve the foundation’s goal of relocating Westminster Choir College (WCC) back to the area.
“The Trustees of the Westminster Foundation have been in conversation for many months with a firm that is prepared to back the repurchase of our beloved Princeton campus and provide the opportunity for the choir college to return to its dedicated facilities,” the post read in part.
According to the announcement, a local real estate and investment firm, ML7, made a bid to purchase the property as well as the choir college earlier in the year. The firm is owned by Jeff Siegel, whose family is credited as “longtime supporters of WCC and the broader Princeton community,” by the foundation.
While the foundation says Rider’s administration responded to the bid, further negotiations are at a standstill until the current claim on the property from the Princeton Theological Seminary has been resolved.
Associate Vice President for University Marketing and Communications Kristine Brown provided the following written statement: “Rider has received many inquiries as to purchasing the Princeton property, including from ML7, but is not in a position to sell until the litigation being pursued by the Princeton Theological Seminary is resolved.”
The suit from the seminary claims that it has beneficiary rights to the Princeton campus.
Although Fee could not disclose much more about the announcement than what was outlined in the initial posting, she did note that waiting for the seminary’s claim to reach resolution has been “like a log jam” preventing much of the proceedings in the negotiating process. She also explained that the communication came at a time when the foundation was finally given permission by Siegel to share his name with the public.
“We realize this update may raise questions that can only be fully addressed as plans develop and legal issues are resolved. … As always, we deeply appreciate your vital support over the past six years. We value your continued support, as a committed, coordinated effort will be crucial in reaching the next phase,” the foundation’s post concluded.
The foundation and university are still awaiting a decision from the New Jersey Appellate Division of Superior Court regarding a previous dismissal of a pair of lawsuits to block the relocation of WCC to the Lawrenceville campus. The hearing took place in Trenton on May 16.
“I am just tremendously grateful to my faculty colleagues in the middle of this situation right now and to both Westminster and Rider students,” Fee said.
Originally printed in the 9/14 issue.