Ohio State University has sold two properties for over $3.2 million as part of its master plan to consolidate its holdings and reinvest in the College of Food, Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.
Hawk’s Nest golf course, north of Wooster, was sold to Gasser Brothers LLC for $2.5 million while Grosjean Farm East was sold to Mark and Brooke Imhoff for $750,000, according to the Ohio Department of Administrative Services Controlling Board and the Wayne County Auditor’s website.
Another 42 acres could soon change hands as OSU finalizes those sales, said Associate Dean of Operations Graham Cochran. These include properties in Wayne and Coshocton counties.
“This all goes back to our master plan, which will allow us to invest in our community,” Cochran said.
The Controlling Board, which adjusts the state budget, approved the sales in early February at an estimated total value of $3.5 million for the six parcels.
The future of Hawk’s Nest unclear
Three acres shy of 200, Hawk’s Nest golf course was appraised at $2.4 million and sold for $2.5 million to Aaron Gasser, Debra Gasser, Steven Gasser, and Jessica Gasser, according to Controlling Board documents.
The Gasser family owns nearby agricultural properties that include dairy production. It’s unclear what their plans are for the land. Messages seeking comment were left with the Gasser family.
The golf course was gifted to OSU nearly 15 years ago by Earl and Betty Hawkins. Then it was appraised at $2.6 million, according to the Hawk’s Nest website.
The university used the property to teach turf grass maintenance for students and teachers in commercial, residential and recreational settings to learn how to plan, budget and care for all types of turf, according to the OSU website.
It sits nearly 11 miles from the Wooster CFAES campus, placing it too far for students and faculty to commute on tight schedules, according to the 2021 CFAES master plan.
Between aging infrastructure and rising maintenance costs, it became too costly to justify keeping it, The Daily Record reported in October.
Grosjean East and other sales
The two Grosjean farms and Coshocton County properties total roughly 80 acres and are part of a university effort to consolidate CFAES into a more accessible campus, according to the 2021 master plan.
Like Hawk’s Nest, these are poised to be sold to neighboring property owners, Cochran said.
Mark and Brooke Imhoff purchased the 38-acre Grosjean East Farm for $750,000. Prior to its sale, Cochran said, the property was not used by students and the barn was largely for storage.
The 31-acre Grosjean West Farm located along Prairie Road is being sold for an estimated $95,000 to Diamond D. Properties LLC, according to the Controlling Board.
Two Coshocton County properties are being sold for $162,000. Daniel Ray Miller and Miriam D. Miller are the prospective buyers.
Two smaller sales of Ohio State University properties
The two smallest of the six sales were not outlined in the 2021 master plan but do meet the consolidation needs of the university, according to documents submitted to the Controlling Board.
The first is nearly half an acre of unused land off Fredericksburg Road. It was set aside as a driveway easement since 1968, but the university did not use it to access its larger 46-acre property.
“The easement has been in place for years now, so it just made sense to sell it and help them out,” Cochran said.
The prospective buyer is Cindy Weiner, who owns the property directly north of the parcel, according to the Wayne County Auditor’s website.
Two acres from a larger 35-acre property that sits off Dover Road in Wooster is also for sale, according to the board. Neighboring A&J Exhaust LLC could buy the parcel for $44,000 to expand its business.
OSU: ‘We want the community to know we aren’t going anywhere’
For Cochran and his colleagues at CFAES, these sales are the start of a new chapter for the campus. Selling the properties will allow the college to trim its budget while bringing in funds, he said.
It will fund a slew of projects included in the master plan ranging from a $9 million boiler that heats much of the campus to renovating the aging Fisher Auditorium, he said.
“We want to turn it into what you would expect from a modern student union,” Cochran explained. The $13 million project would add dining, library and retail amenities for students and the community.
A new swine farm will also be constructed for students in the coming year, he said.
Because many of these plans and previous builds used state funds, Cochran said, the college must use 1% of those funds for art.
The recently built science center will soon have a new art display making use of those funds, he said, brightening up the campus.
“We want the community to know we aren’t going anywhere,” Cochran said. “We’re staying right here, and we’re going to invest in the community.”