Nashville Post | June 19, 2015

Welch College President Matt Pinson announced today the sale of the college’s West End Avenue campus to Mike Ford Custom Builders for $11.25 million.

In a release, Pinson said that 7.14 acres of the 7.6-acre campus were sold. The lot containing the Welch Library building (see here courtesy of Google Maps) was not included in the sale, the 1907-completed structured to be preserved as a historic landmark under the protected status of the Metro Historic Commission.

Welch (formerly Free Will Baptist Bible College) will continue to use the campus, even as initial construction is underway, for the 2015-16 academic year. A new campus in Sumner County should be ready for students by June 2016. The college had about 340 students this past academic year.

“This sale was completed in a manner that allows us to transition the property into a residential community in keeping with the wishes of our longstanding neighbors,” Pinson said. “It also allows us to proceed with construction of our new campus in Sumner County.”

Ford plans to build 30 attached brownstones that will face West End Avenue and 21 single-family luxury homes fronting Richland Avenue. All will be accessed via a rear common alley. Prices will range from $1.2 million to more than $2 million. Prices for the brownstones are expected to start at approximately $900,000.

According to Ford, Davidson Hall, an existing Welch building with “historic and architectural significance” and that fronts Richland Avenue (see below), will be preserved and renovated for sale as a residence.

“We are so excited about this project,” Ford said in the release. “We are very thankful to be able to play the major role in adding 50 wonderful homes to this community. It’s already been very rewarding to meet and work with folks at Welch College. We couldn’t be happier that we have been able to help the college realize its dream of a new campus. We appreciate the work of everyone involved.”

Ford said construction will be staged and phased in a manner that minimizes the impact of parking and traffic in the surrounding neighborhood.

Brentwood-based Land Innovations and its managing partner Dudley Smith assisted Welch with land-use analysis and planning facilitation as well as to find a qualified buyer.

Pinson said the college and development team have worked closely with the Richland West End Neighborhood Association, the Metro Historical Commission and Metro Councilman Jason Holleman.

Jim Kelley, president of the neighborhood association, wrote in a letter to area residents the following: “Many of us have worked on the sale of the College campus for over 20 years. Given all of the factors, we believe that this is a good project for our neighborhood.”

Tim Walker, MHC executive director, said the development plan will return the college land to the original historic design and layout of the neighborhood.

“Their plan will subdivide the college’s large parcels on Richland Avenue into smaller-sized lots typical of the historic properties in the Richland-West End neighborhood. In addition, their support of the designation of the Welch College Library building as a Historic Landmark through the Metro Historic Zoning Commission, will ensure one of the city’s best examples of a French Eclectic style home, will remain for future generations.”