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Foundation tied to billionaire Gerald Chan buys Newton seminary campus

Andover Newton Theological School

Wilson Chapel at Andover Newton Theological School in Newton Centre.

By John Hilliard Globe Correspondent 

Andover Newton Theological School has finalized a sale of its 20-acre Newton Centre property to a business entity affiliated with billionaire investor and developer Gerald Chan, a spokesperson for the buyer said Thursday.

In a brief statement posted to the school’s website, officials said the property was sold to a “well-regarded foundation” that intends to use the site for educational purposes.

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The school will remain on the property for the 2017-2018 school year and rent the Franklin Trask Library building on campus. Officials said all teaching will take place in that building, which also houses the school library.

In a statement, a spokesperson for the buyer, Eversail LLC, described it as a “family entity” affiliated with Chan, a Newton Centre investor on the Forbes billionaire list.

Chan, with his family, made a $350 million gift to Harvard’s public health school, which was renamed to honor Chan’s father.

Eversail intends to continue the educational use of the property, according to the spokesperson, who declined to discuss further details of the agreement.

The property, which is a short walk from the Newton Centre MBTA stop, has a fiscal 2017 assessed value of more than $47 million, according to city records.

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The school’s announcement was made at 4 p.m., the same time that the business hours of the Middlesex Registry of Deeds, which keeps public records of real estate transactions, closed for the evening Thursday.

Ned Allyn Parker, the school’s alumni and development officer, declined to comment when reached by a reporter Thursday and directed questions to a spokesman, David Guarino.

Guarino said the holding company involved in the transaction is Eversail LLC, which gives the address of a Boston law firm as its principal office, according to Massachusetts secretary of state records.

In a statement, Guarino said school officials are unable to discuss the agreement.

“We are grateful the buyer intends to continue the property’s educational use. Beyond that, the details of the buyer’s plans are up to them to disclose. We respect that and have to abide by their wishes,” he said.

Through a spokeswoman, Newton Mayor Setti Warren declined to comment Thursday night.

City Councilor Victoria L. Danberg, whose ward includes the school property, said councilors have not yet been contacted by the buyer. She noted that there is support for the school’s previous statements that the property would keep its educational use.

“Many in the community would look favorably on the property remaining as an educational or boarding school use, and if students were to occupy the existing dormitories, that would limit the traffic on Herrick Road, the only entrance and the exit onto property,” Danberg said in a brief interview.

Andover Newton announced last year that the school had finalized a partnership with Yale University and will relocate to New Haven, Conn., following the coming school year.

On Thursday, Rev. Martin B. Copenhaver, Andover Newton’s president, said in a statement that the school “made valiant attempts” over the past three decades to remain in its Newton Centre home.

“When faced with the reality that the school needed to choose between maintaining the campus and carrying on the school’s core mission to educate clergy, the choice became clear,” the statement said.

The seminary was founded in 1807 but has seen years of enrollment decline. When it relocates to the Yale campus, it will be known as “Andover Newton at Yale.”

Guarino said about 80 students will be taking classes at the Newton Centre campus during the 2017-2018 school year.


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