Thursday, June 20, 2024

Lesley University’s 16-18 Wendell St. are listed for $9.5 million in Cambridge’s Baldwin neighborhood. (Photo: Marc Levy)

Lesley University put a half-dozen Cambridge property listings on the market Thursday worth an estimated $38.2 million.

Five of the listings – on Wendell Street in the Baldwin neighborhood and Phillips Place in West Cambridge – are new, while the Baldwin neighborhood’s 6 Sacramento St. is a re-listing from a first round of real estate sales over the past couple of years.

At the presentation of its annual town-gown report in February, Lesley University told the Planning Board that there “has been interest” in 6 Sacramento St., “but no sale has yet been finalized,” unlike for properties it sold in the Baldwin neighborhood and Porter Square at 1627 Massachusetts Ave. (sold for $7.2 million in April 2022 to Homeowners Rehabilitation Inc., a nonprofit builder of affordable housing); 815-818 Somerville Ave. (sold for $12 million in September to Billerica’s KS Partners for use as labs); and on Mellen Street at the addresses 7, 9, 11, 13, 17, 19 and 21 Mellen St. Sale prices totaling $11.2 million could be found for five of the seven Mellen Street properties.

The real estate sales were publicized as part of a Campus Plan introduced in October 2021 to remake and connect the school’s three Cambridge campuses through 2026 with everything from wayfinding and landscaping to work less visible to the public, including updating the plumbing in aging dorms to ensuring classrooms are state of the art. President Janet Steinmayer said then that the plan was expected to cost in the tens of millions of dollars.

“Additional real estate divestiture (and ongoing reinvestment in retained assets) is planned in the coming year to right-size the university assets,” Planning Board members learned from the town-gown report.

What that looks like is the re-listing of 6 Sacramento, a 15,696-square-foot residential building, for $5 million, with some new properties: 14 Wendell St., a brick building of 7,624 square feet built in 1890, for $5.9 million; 16-18 Wendell St., two homes with a combined 12,300 square feet, for $9.5 million; 34 Wendell St., a home with 3,960 square feet on a 6,624-square-foot lot for $2.1 million; and 30 Wendell St., a 0.3-acre lot used for athletics, for $3.3 million.

Among Lesley properties near Harvard Square, where it paid $25 million in 2018 for the former Episcopal Divinity School campus, the property listings are 3 Phillips Place, also known as 11 Mason St., a 14,465-square-foot residential structure, for $8 million; and 5 Phillips Place, an 1860 home of 7,930 square feet, for $4.4 million.

The mission is the same for the new listings as it was for the first round, said Michelle Davis, marketing and communications lead for Lesley.

“The listing of these properties is part of our campus plan to right-size the campus to the needs of our students. We purchased the Episcopal Divinity Property, which we co-owned, from them knowing that we were going to have excess square footage but wanting to take the opportunity to own this beautiful and historic property, which we call South Campus,” Davis said. “We are now selling some properties that we don’t need or don’t serve us well and investing those proceeds in improving our current campus.”

Lesley University’s faculty gave Steinmayer and the university’s board of trustees no-confidence votes Feb. 28 amid concerns about cost-cutting to offset a $10 million budget deficit, as well as some governance complaints. It was the second no-confidence vote for Steinmayer in 14 months.

To offset the deficit, Steinmayer and Lesley’s trustees announced in January a six-week efficiency study called the Better Lesley initiative.

Cushman & Wakefield’s Christopher Sower is handling Lesley’s property sales.

The sales pitch for 3 Phillips Place notes the appeal of the properties, including being unencumbered by long-term lease commitments. The site offers “potential redevelopment to multifamily residential and condominium conversions, among other options and strategies,” according to the realtor.com page, noting the land is 10 minutes from a T atop and “in one of the most esteemed locations in the world, with unmatched access to many of the nation’s top colleges and universities, technology and biotech employers and many of the region’s best shopping and dining amenities.”