A&G executives: ‘New Normal’ spurs schools to rethink their real estate
MELVILLE, NY — Trustees are scrutinizing real estate holdings in education as never before, noted two executives from A&G Real Estate Partners in a webinar conducted by The Association of Governing Boards of Universities and Colleges (AGB).
“The pandemic is fast-forwarding business models that were already pivoting to take into account declining enrollments, reductions in state funding, higher debt loads and more distance learning,” said Andy Graiser, co-president of A&G. “At the board level, there’s a growing focus on ramping up the efficiency of real estate.” The Oct. 22 webinar (“Bolstering Liquidity by Optimizing Real Estate”) drew more than 70 AGB members. Graiser was joined by Jeff Hubbard, a senior managing director in A&G’s Structured real estate sales division, as well as panelists Dr. William W. Latimer, vice president of the Bronx Campus of Mercy College, and Andrew Laws, managing director of the education practice at Huron Consulting Group.
Graiser, a 28 year veteran of lease restructuring and disposition, noted that A&G’s Education Services group has helped the likes of Dowling College, The College of New Rochelle (CNR), Career Education Corp., and Kaplan University reduce their occupancy costs through strategies such as restructuring or terminating leases, and boost liquidity through structured sales and sale-leaseback transactions.
Panelist Latimer shared his experience in working with A&G on such a strategy at CNR, where he was brought in as president in 2018 in the wake of a financial crisis dating to 2016 that caused the college’s debt service to swell and required the time needed to broker a partnership.