BARRINGTON PATCH - Zion Bible Property Put Up for Auction

September 07, 2011

By William Rupp

September 7, 2011

Barrington Patch
Almost 40-acre property is the largest piece of undeveloped land in Barrington; Town Council held executive session on property Tuesday night.

The former Zion Bible college property in Barrington is being put on the auction block.

The 39.5-acre site will be auctioned off on Tuesday, Oct. 25, according to Zion Bible President Charles Crabtree.

"We just decided it is best to move it," Crabtree said of the former college on Primrose Hill off of Middle Highway.

Bidders will have to make a "reserve bid of $2 million" to get in on the auction, the president said.

That $2 million figure is the minimum the Bible college wants to sell the property for, said Brad Martin, Zion's attorney.

The property also will be sold "as is as shown," Martin said. Zion also wants to close on the property within a relatively short time.

"The college needs to move on," he said. "That campus is not in its future plans. The board of trustees wants to get out from under the financial burden."

"They decided that an auction would provide the best return," Martin said.

J.J. Manning of Yarmouthport, Mass., is the auctioneer, Martin said. The firm specializes in large commercial properties.

The Barrington Town Council had pursued the purchase of the property at a cost of $5.2 million earlier this year. An assessment of the property after a purchase-and-sale agreement was signed revealed significant cleanup costs that scared the councilors away from pursuing the purchase.

The Town Council did hold an executive session after Tuesday night's meeting to deal with "acquisition of real property re. Zion Bible Institute."

Jeff Brenner, vice president of the Town Council and the primary proponent of purchasing the property earlier this year, said: "I still think it would be great for a middle school."

The council is in the process of gathering as much information about the auction as possible, he said. For instance: "Is there a minimum price?"

Brenner also said that he believes the Town Council "has an obligation to keep its eyes open" to any possibility to acquire the property, which is the largest piece of undeveloped land in Barrington.

Brenner said also that "I still feel there is hope for a public-private partnership."

Town Council President June Speakman said purchasing the property would be "very tricky" given the cleanup costs.

But, she said, the "preservationists want to preserve it" and there is plenty of interest in Barrington in using the property for a middle school or affordable housing or more playing fields.

"There are plenty of opportunities to develop it," she said. "And the Town Council is aware of the options. Peter (DeAngelis, town manager) will be keeping an eye on it for us. I expect he'll come back to us with a suggestion at some point."