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WEST OF BOSTON

Hebrew College sells Newton campus for $18m

The Hebrew College campus in Newton Centre.
The Hebrew College campus in Newton Centre. Hebrew College

Hebrew College has sold its Newton Centre campus for $18 million to an independent school organization that also owns the neighboring grounds of the former Andover Newton Theological School.

The agreement finalized Aug 17 allows Hebrew College to remain in its current location for “several years under favorable terms” and means the college will be debt-free for the first time since it moved to Newton more than 17 years ago, according to a statement from Hebrew College.

“This transaction lays a strong foundation for future growth, and we are tremendously excited for the opportunities that lie ahead,” said the college’s president, Rabbi Sharon Cohen Anisfeld, in a statement.

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The agreement also brings together two campuses — the 7-acre property occupied by Hebrew College and the 20-acre property once owned by Andover Newton — under one owner, the Newton-based Winthrop Park School, Inc.

Winthrop plans to open an “intentionally diverse” independent school for students in grades 9 through 12, and also will offer training for teachers and school administrators, said Steve Hinds, who serves as the organization’s founding president and president of its board of trustees.

Independent schools are private, nonprofit schools run by an independent board.

The school also will offer an online component that would enable users to share and collaborate on open-source materials, lesson plans, and research, Hinds said.

“It is really to serve the children of the Boston metropolitan area,” Hinds said during a phone interview. “We want this to be an epicenter for great teaching and great learning.”

The school is being developed with the help of experts from Harvard University, MIT, and Carnegie Mellon University, said Hinds, a former headmaster of the Meadowbrook School, a private pre-K to grade 8 school in Weston.

A timeline for when the independent school would open is still being determined, Hinds said.

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In March, Winthrop Park obtained control of the former campus of Andover Newton from a firm that is a “family entity” affiliated with Newton billionaire Gerald Chan for $10. That firm, Eversail LLC, paid close to $32 million for the property last summer. Andover Newton has relocated to New Haven, Conn., where it is affiliated with the Yale Divinity School.

Andover Newton has relocated to New Haven, Conn., where it is affiliated with the Yale Divinity School.

In corporate filings, Winthrop Park shares its Newton address with Eversail and parts of Chan’s Morningside Group, a private equity and venture capital investment firm Chan cofounded with his brother.

Hebrew College did not identify Winthrop Park as the buyer in its statement, but said “the purchaser of the property has committed that, when Hebrew College moves to a new home, the building will continue to serve an educational mission.”

The Hebrew College property was assessed at more than $27.3 million in fiscal 2018, according to the city’s assessors department.

Hebrew College’s students include about 1,500 adult learners, 164 students in graduate and certificate programs, and more than 200 students in the college’s youth education program, according to its website.

The college, which ordains rabbis and cantors, was carrying over $32 million in debt in 2010, but reached an agreement with creditors in 2012 that reduced its debt to $7.4 million and allowed it to remain at its Newton Centre campus.

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The land sale allows the college to “invest in people and programs, and assures the college’s sustainability,” according to the statement from Hebrew College. “This next phase presents new opportunities for the college to build and strengthen partnerships with other institutions and increase engagement with greater Boston’s vibrant Jewish community.”


John Hilliard can be reached at john.hilliard@globe.com.