FAQs

We’ve provided answers to common questions regarding the sale of non-core Wellesley College properties.

General

How is the North 40 currently zoned?
The parcel is currently zoned for single-family use.
In addition to the North 40, what other parcels would you consider "non-core"?  Are there development plans in place for those parcels?  How are they zoned?
A good example of another fringe parcel would be Rollins lot, which is currently zoned for single family homes and does not have an academic use.  However, any of the other non-core parcels are far less significant in size and scope for potential development. Any non-core parcel development, from the North 40 to smaller parcels, would go through a full town permitting and community process. The College currently considers any land which abuts that lake as part of our core holdings.   This property is bordered by Routes 16 and 135 and by Pond Road.
What is the estimated value of the land?
As of now, we do not have an estimated value of the land and are currently working to assess the value and prepare the land for sale. The town has appraised the land at $25,277,000.
How will the proceeds from sale or lease of the property be used by Wellesley College?
Any financial resources derived from its re-use will be used to support campus improvement in alignment with Wellesley College's academic and campus needs. Revenue will support repairs, maintenance and modest expansion of existing buildings in areas such as Pendleton West, Founders/Green, Munger and the Field House. Resources will also serve to maintain the landscape architecture of the core campus.
Do you have a potential buyer/developer at this time?
At this time Wellesley College has not had any formal conversations with buyers or lessees and is open to a wide range of possibilities for the development or conservation of the site. As one of the largest nearby neighbors for the North 40 and a member of the community, Wellesley College will make it a priority to identify responsible partners who are sensitive to community needs and concerns.
Why does Wellesley College need/want to sell this land?
This land was originally donated to the College to support our mission; however, its location makes it challenging to use for academic purposes and our space needs are largely met in the core campus.
By selling this property, Wellesley will gain additional financial resources to support our Campus Renewal plan, which includes repair and maintenance efforts as well as modest expansions on existing buildings. The productive re-use of the North 40, as well as other non-core properties, will allow the Trustees to focus our assets in the areas we can best utilize them in support of the College's academic mission.

Process

Should the land be preserved for Wellesley expansion?
Wellesley College is committed to maintaining its current campus footprint and renovating, maintaining or modestly expanding its existing campus buildings to meet current academic needs. Furthermore, the density of development on the core campus is quite low and could easily support any potential future academic development.
After all this time, the push for sale seems to be happening suddenly, why is this?
We actually came to the community quite early in the process – even before the SJC made a decision on whether this land can be used for private development.
The trustees and leadership of Wellesley College have tried for many years to find appropriate uses for the North 40, as a non-core parcel. The North 40 was originally donated to the college under a restriction that it be used to support the academic mission. Since the original land grant to the College, the College has acquired or been given nearly 200 additional acres of land, most of it wrapping further around the lake and directly across Route 16, a much quieter street, from the main campus.
We both have enough space in our core campus to support academic needs and the location of the parcel makes it difficult to use safely. Given the analysis which showed openness to reconsidering the restriction, Wellesley College pursued this important opportunity to support funding of the Campus Renewal plan.
When will the plans for development/use be public?
The College has begun exploring potential uses and has had a number of conversations with the town, who has demonstrated interest in purchasing some or all of the land. At this time, Wellesley College is in the beginning stages of a parallel process to assess the land's value and conduct appropriate assessments. Community members can continue to expect a transparent process during this time.
How will the community be included during the planning process?
The community can expect any developer to follow the appropriate development approval process, which will include public hearings and community meetings. While Wellesley does not expect to be actively involved with the planning and development process, as the largest nearby neighbor and a member of this community, we expect to identify responsible development partners who are sensitive to community needs and concerns.

Concerns

Community Involvement

Will the town be given the first priority and a discounted price in purchasing the land for community needs?
We are open to receiving proposals and working with the town throughout this process. Any questions about the town's intentions for the land are best answered by town officials.

Potential Buyers/Uses

Community members, especially the close neighbors, should have a say in what happens to the land, what will be the community's role?
Community members will be able to voice opinions/concerns through any public permitting process once a potential development partner is chosen.
During the town's visioning process, they have invited representatives of the Woodland and Weston Road neighborhoods to participate.
Is the town of Wellesley going to purchase the land?
Our conversations with the town were focused on making them aware of our plans to file in an effort to be transparent. Any questions about whether or not the town is planning to purchase the land should be directed towards them.
Is there a possibility of a land trust on this land so the community can keep the public garden space and preserve the wildlife?
Wellesley College is committed to reviewing all proposals and possibilities for the land with a great respect for the community. At the same time, the trustees have an obligation to best maximize all college assets in a way that supports the colleges academic mission (i.e. by aiding in the financing of the campus renewal plan)
At one point there were plans for you to use this land for faculty housing, yet you claim the land offers no academic use, how is this so?
Wellesley College has considered different uses on the land including the possibility for faculty housing. However, doing so poses a number of safety and cost concerns. The North 40 parcel is separated from the core campus by heavy infrastructure, making transportation to and from the core campus unsafe and inconvenient. As faculty housing options were considered in the past, the College has ultimately preferred other locations for housing.

Construction Impacts

A similar plan was proposed in the 1990s and fell through; can the college revisit this plan?
The plan proposed in the early 90's was intended for academic related uses, but proved not economically feasible at that time. With the possibility to sell or lease the land to a developer for non-academic related program, the college has an opportunity to maximize this asset in a way that truly supports the academic needs of the campus.
How will construction/development impacts be addressed?
Wellesley College is committed to conducting a process that is respectful of our surrounding community and acknowledges any potential concerns the town and its residents may have. To that end, Wellesley College expects to identify responsible development partners who are sensitive to community needs and concerns.
The area is already densely developed; will the plan be environmentally sustainable?
Town officials and potential developers will work together to understand all impacts of development to the community and environment.
How will the proximity of the water well affect the plans if at all?
Town officials and potential developers will work together to understand all impacts of development to the community and environment.

Preserving the Environment

How will the former town dump and potential environmental issues associated with it be mitigated if there is construction?
Town officials and potential developers will work together to understand all impacts of development to the community and environment.
Will there continue to be open space available to the community?
Wellesley College is dedicated to maintaining access to the walking path and scenery that surround the lake on the core campus, as a resource for both our College and the larger Wellesley community. Current zoning provisions (Natural Resource Protection Development bylaw) for parcels of this size also call for preservation of 50% of the property as open space.
What will become of the walking paths/community garden space?
The community garden space is currently located on Wellesley College property. While this space will likely be included in the sale, Wellesley College will encourage any potential developers to work with community members on a plan for maintaining or relocating community garden space elsewhere in the area if necessary. meanwhile, on August 6th, we notified the community gardeners that they may continue to garden on site during the 2015 growing season.  Any potential use of the property that might require permitting will have a permitting process that will extend through that time. The Wellesley Crosstown Trail crosses the North 40 on land not owned by the College.  Wellesley College is also committed to maintaining the walking path surrounding the lake on the core campus for community and college use.
What considerations are being taken with regard to the wetlands?
With the exception of the vernal pool, there are no other documented wetlands on the property at this time.
How large was the landfill?
A total of 23 acres was leased from Wellesley College by the Town of Wellesley for the purposes of a sanitary landfill for five years beginning in 1955. Precisely how much of the land was used for this purpose is not currently known but will be investigated.
What type of environmental assessment are you doing on the part of the North 40 that had been used by the town of Wellesley for a landfill?
Wellesley College is working with respected environmental consultants to have a better understanding of what might exist on the landfill site and how that would impact uses going forward.  In addition, the site will be surveyed for any other wetlands or endangered species. This type of review would be conducted by any entity who would consider either active or passive development on a former landfill site.

Other Potential Properties for Sale

Rollins Lot is mentioned as another potential parcel for sale to a developer, is this true?
Rollins Lot is currently zoned for single family homes and we have begun the process of identifying a private developer to purchase the land. Though Rollins Lot is not as significant in size or potential development, neighbors in that area can expect the same level of transparency in communications.

Traffic Impacts

Has the impact on traffic in an already busy area been considered?
As we are in the very beginning stages of this process, but have begun the process of identifying vendors to conduct studies in regards to traffic impact or otherwise.  They will begin by understanding the past studies done in the extended vicinity. You can expect that any potential developer will also be required by the town process to administer traffic impact studies.

Miscellaneous

I have read that this property was donated to Wellesley College in 1873 by Henry Fowle Durant, co-founder of the college, with the stipulation that the land be used as “farm lands, pasture, woodlots, mowing fields, as well as pleasure grounds and cultivated lands.”  Is this true?
No, Mr. Durant instructed the College in the Indenture that “(t)he farm lands, pasture, woodlots, mowing fields as well as the pleasure grounds, and cultivated lands may be used for the convenience and benefit of the College and such changes and improvements in the cultivation may be made and such new buildings may be erected thereon for the purposes of the College as the trustees may think best…” His intent was for the land to be used to further the College’s mission.
I'm very wary of the College altering the restrictions placed on assets in a donation or a bequest. Doesn't this send the wrong message to potential donors who may also want to file restrictions?
It certainly has not been the College’s practice to alter or depart from the spirit and the letter of restrictions imposed by donors, and we do not believe we are doing so now. Within the context of the overall mission, Mr. Durant’s original gift of the campus property granted a measure of discretion to the Trustees to use and improve the property for the benefit of the College, “as the trustees may think best.” For a number of reasons, the North 40 has remained vacant for over 140 years and is in fact not presently serving the intent of Mr. Durant’s gift. Given the College's subsequent acquisition or receipt of nearly 180 additional acres since the time of Mr. Durant's gift, the College views those lands as more suitable for any potential future needs. The Trustees have determined that the best way for this property to serve the intention of the grant would be to sell the North 40 and apply the proceeds to further the educational mission of the school. Both the Attorney General and the Supreme Judicial Court have agreed with the Trustees’ determination.
The Town of Wellesley also has a FAQ list about the North 40.

Related

North 40 News

The Town of Wellesley has a  North 40 information page; you can sign up to receive updates.