'Quite a bit of interest' in purchase of Quest University site as school prepares to suspend classes indefinitely
The realtor tasked with selling the site of Quest University in Squamish says there’s already been “quite a bit of interest” in the property.
The school is suspending academic programming at the end of the spring semester after announcing it could not secure funding to keep going, meaning the campus will soon sit empty. One day after that announcement, the land and buildings were listed publicly for sale.
Marshall MacLeod is vice-president at NAI Commercial and is the realtor acting on behalf of the site owners, Primacorp, for the sale.
“We’ve been looking at it on behalf of the owner for a couple of months now,” MacLeod told CTV News. “But we officially didn’t go to market until Quest made their decision to cease operation at the end of April.”
The entire site is 55 acres, a total that includes the Quest main campus and student housing, but also around 38 acres of developable land that could be used for housing and commercial development.
MacLeod said his company has looked “nationally and internationally” for prospective buyers.
“There’s been quite a bit of interest in Quest – in the development lands and the campus lands,” he said. “It’s a very attractive area right now.”
Despite the land being for sale, the university itself is not. Quest is a separate entity which has been leasing the site from Primacorp.
“If someone wants to talk to Quest about their operation, that would be something to do directly,” said MacLeod.
The asking price is not public. Only serious buyers who sign a non-disclosure agreement will be given the price tag. But it’s not cheap.
Primacorp purchased the site in 2020 when Quest filed for creditor protection. At the time, MacLeod said, the price was in the “mid-40s,” meaning somewhere between $40 million and $50 million.
The current valuation of the land and buildings is $69,256,000, according to BC Assessment.
CHALLENGES FOR THE SITE
The university campus is zoned and purpose-built for a school. Classrooms are only made to fit around 20 students and the student accommodation is dorm rooms.
Squamish Mayor Armand Hurford believes the buildings can’t be turned into housing.
“They’re not complete apartments. It’s very much a dorm-built facility,” he said.
The District of Squamish has poured millions of dollars of taxpayer money into the Quest project. A statement on the district’s website said it’s invested more than $5 million for infrastructure, on top of waiving property taxes from the year 2000 to 2015.
“The community has a strong desire to have a university on those lands,” mayor Hurford said.
WHAT NEXT FOR STUDENTS?
Quest University currently has around 130 active students, according to Jeff Warren, the school’s vice-president academic. He said of that number, roughly 50 students will graduate this spring and the remaining 80 will transfer to other institutions to finish their degrees.
More than 30 universities and colleges are offering special considerations for Quest students, and last week the university held a transfer fair for students to see what options were available to them.
“We will continue to do everything we can to support students as they determine the next steps on their academic journey,’ Warren told CTV News.
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