Petition update


Quinn Dukes
Brooklyn, NY, United States

Mar 12, 2020 — 

Thursday, March 12, 2020

Investment firm makes formal purchase offer, with a blueprint for an independent Watkins College

(Nashville, TN) A real estate investment firm has offered a $17 million dollar property purchase and leaseback package, as an alternative to the pending Watkins-Belmont deal that would transfer all Watkins assets to Belmont University and close Watkins.

New York-based Somera Road, Inc., a commercial real estate firm with several successful commercial developments in Nashville, today emailed a Letter of Intent to the Watkins Commissioners and Board of Trustees, outlining an offer that they describe as one that "we feel best provide[s] the Watkins College of Art relief from current capital constraints and an opportunity to remain a fully independent institution operating from its current location for many years to come."

The leaseback deal would include Somera Road's purchase of the Watkins campus property for $17 million dollars, and would offer one year rent free, in addition to future rent at 30 percent under market rate. In addition, upon closing of the deal, Watkins would also receive a one million dollar escrow fund to cover any short-term financial needs.

According to Somera Road principal Joe LeMense, Jr., "Liquidity from the $17 million sale will allow Watkins to save themselves without the unwelcome control of a religious university that is misaligned with Watkins’ core values and founding principles. It will also provide Watkins funds for operating shortfalls and endowment and flexibility to further its fundraising efforts, increase new student enrollment and cement the college’s future in Nashville. With this assistance, we firmly believe the Watkins College of Art can evolve into an ever-more dynamic college for the creative elite and serve the arts community for many years to come."

Somera Road describes itself as being "a reliable, transparent, and responsible counterparty that performs and does exactly what it says it will do. Most importantly, Somera takes pride in being active members of the communities in which we invest. In each of these markets, we engage local residents, existing tenants, politicians, other developers, artists, community boards, and establish a diverse network of stakeholders wherever we plant the Somera Road flag. [We] serve a number of diverse tenants and uses - from maker spaces to art exhibitions, from manufacturers to defense contractors, from entertainment venues to medical clinics, we pride ourselves on fostering environments, through real estate, that increase users’ quality of life."

Somera Road Joe LeMense, Jr. Somera Road, Inc. 202-236-9951,
Save Watkins​​ Press Contact: Quinn Dukes, ​​​​, ​646.704.4761

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