Buyer found for Hoffman Estates campus; trustees greenlight deal

The+Board+of+Trustees+approved+the+sale+of+the+Hoffman+Estates+campus+at+their+special+meeting+at+10+a.m.+Thursday.

Aidan Bengford I Northern Star

The Board of Trustees approved the sale of the Hoffman Estates campus at their special meeting at 10 a.m. Thursday.

Aidan Bengford and Kierra Frazier

DeKALB – The Board of Trustees on Thursday approved the sale of NIU’s Hoffman Estates campus.

The university placed the facility on the market in June and quickly received an offer according to the agenda on Sept. 9.

The closing date on the facility is pending, but efforts are being made by the buyer to complete due diligence on the sale within 90 days, according to the agenda.

“In March of 2021, the Board of Trustees designated the Hoffman Estates campus as surplus to the university needs and authorized the property to be sold,” Freeman said. “The world has changed since Hoffman Estates was designated as an outreach center, and with COVID, we have seen that many working professionals take their classes in an online or virtual format.” 

Freeman said after the meeting that students taking classes at the Hoffman Estates property are typically commuter students who work a full-time job. Due to COVID-19 and an increase in online courses, NIU made the decision to sell property. 

“There wasn’t a competitive market for conferencing and events, and the requirement to hold classes there just no longer existed,” Freeman said. “So to be good stewards of the university and state funds, the opportunity to sell the building and use the money recovered to address roofs and leaky windows and other deferred maintenance on campus was a good decision.” 

Holly Nicholson, president of the University Advisory Committee, raised concerns that other members had over optics surrounding the sale of the Hoffman Estates campus.

“It will appear that NIU is exiting from that community, and they’re wondering if (NIU) will address that and then also there may be a perception by this sale that NIU isn’t thriving,” Nicholson said.

Freeman addressed these dual concerns and said that NIU is thriving based on its 10-day enrollment numbers, showing that NIU welcomed the largest first-year class in 20 years.  

“I’d like you to know that NIU continues to be invested in the Hoffman Estates community and that we actually offer classes very close to the Hoffman Estates campus at the Harper University Center,” Freeman said.

Eric Wasowicz, Board of Trustees chairperson, also commented before calling a vote that the university is handling the money of the people of Illinois and that the university needs to be responsible for it.

The potential buyer, closing date and amount of sale were not disclosed during the special session.