Nearly two years after the pandemic permanently ceased on-campus operations at Urbana University, there is now a purchase agreement in place for the campus.
According to a statement issued Tuesday by Franklin University, which was operating the facility as a branch campus until 2020, “Franklin University has entered into a purchase agreement for the sale of the Urbana campus. This agreement signifies the intent of all parties to engage in a property sale transaction and explains which conditions must be met for the sale to close and ownership of the property to transfer to the new buyer. Upon satisfactory completion of due diligence, Franklin University and the buyer will issue a statement confirming the final sale. No further details will be shared at this time.”
Franklin purchased Urbana University in 2014 after it fell on hard times following a rapid expansion that included new dorms, a new student center and a new football stadium after the dawn of the new millennium.
Franklin had invested millions of dollars in infrastructure improvements and upgrades to the campus prior to putting it on the market in 2020 when the pandemic mitigation measures suddenly upended campus activities.
In the summer of 2021, a pair of former Ohio State athletes floated the concept of purchasing the campus for a sports academy. Braxton Miller and Troy Smith hosted a football camp and community festival during the summer activities on the campus, but no further progress has been apparent on the duo purchasing the campus since that initial flurry of publicity.
When contacted for information on Tuesday, city of Urbana officials deferred all questions about the property to Franklin.
“The city has not been approached by any potential buyers,” Doug Crabill, Urbana Community Development Manager, said on behalf of the city. “When the property was first listed for sale, we indicated to CBRE and Franklin University that a zoning change would not be required if the campus were to continue to operate as an educational institution.”
CBRE specializes in commercial real state services for entities marketing and selling a campus, such as Franklin.
Brenda Burns is managing editor of the Urbana Daily Citizen.