Sacred Heart University, the second largest Catholic university in New England, has purchased General Electric's former global headquarters campus in Fairfield, Connecticut, for $31.5 million. University officials say the school is growing rapidly, and the 66-acre property near its main campus in Fairfield was too good to pass up.
GE moved its corporate headquarters to Boston earlier this year.
Michael Kinney, senior vice president for Finance at Sacred Heart, says the property will increase the size of the university considerably. Sacred Heart plans to use the space to develop new programs, particularly its graduate colleges.
“It gives us the ability to continue to grow the institution, not only along the ways we’re doing it today, but also to enter into new programs – which, quite frankly, we would have difficulty in our current campus size.”
The university also plans on using the property as an “innovation campus” by moving its School of Computing to the site and developing future STEM-related programs.
According to the town of Fairfield, the assessed valuation of the GE property is more than $70 million, and the town says GE will pay $1.8 million in taxes on that for the current fiscal year. Sacred Heart is a non-profit university, which is not subject to the same taxation.
State Senator Tony Hwang, R-134, whose district includes Fairfield, says both institutions should do something to remedy the loss of taxes.
“To be able to collaborate and partner in bridging some of the potential financial burden that may be lost with the tax-free status of the academic institution, to create an environment, an entrepreneurial center of excellence that could generate tax revenue for our community.”
University officials say the deal is the result of four months of negotiations.
Disclosure: Sacred Heart University owns the broadcast license of WSHU Public Radio, which is funded primarily with listener support.