Golden Gate campus fetches $85 million

The deal includes a two-year lease-back, giving the school time to move its main campus from the San Francisco Bay Area to Southern California.

By Bob Allen

A picturesque 126-acre Southern Baptist seminary campus with sweeping views of San Francisco Bay brought $85 million in a sale finalized last week.

Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary plans to use sale proceeds to relocate its main campus in Mill Valley, Calif., to Southern California, and for a new regional campus in the San Francisco Bay Area.

jeff iorgSeminary President Jeff Iorg said in a press release that the deal adds $50 million into an endowment, which took 70 years to gather a total of $21 million prior to the property sale. The sale includes a two-year lease-back, allowing the seminary to continue operations at the current site while officials finalize an agreement for the new campus, expected to be announced in a few weeks.

Golden Gate trustees voted in March to sell the prime real estate located seven miles north of the Golden Gate Bridge and purchased in 1953 for $400,000. That was after county planners turned down the seminary’s recent proposal for 117 new dwellings, including 74 home sites for sale to the public, citing terms of a 1984 master plan. It was the most recent setback for the seminary’s expansion plans during the last four years.

The buyer is North Coast Land Holdings, a billion-dollar trust of a family foundation started with wealth from oil and ranching in Texas a century ago.

Iorg said the seminary received multiple offers for the property, all of them less than the $85 million ultimately accepted. He said an indispensable part of the agreement is the two-year lease-back.

“We had to build the relocation process around the needs of students,” Iorg said. “We could not sell the land and close the campus abruptly. We had to have a sale and relocation process that preserved our institutional commitment to current students.”

Future plans for the property have not been disclosed, but the Marin Independent Journal reported that they include the Branson School, a co-educational college-preparatory high school founded in 1920 which is outgrowing its current campus in Ross, Calif.

The founder of the The Fasken Trust, which owns North Coast Land Holdings, was a graduate of the Branson School and as a philanthropist was especially interested in scholarships for high school and college students.

Golden Gate, one of six theological seminaries operated by the Southern Baptist Convention, was formed in 1944, just two years after the first churches from California were seated by the Southern Baptist Convention. The school was adopted by the SBC in 1950 and moved to its current campus on Strawberry Point in Marin County in 1959.

Currently Golden Gate has an enrollment of 600 students, including 175 who live on campus, and a payroll covering 90 employees.

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