The landlords of a bankrupt, for-profit college have sold the school’s West Kendall campus at a loss.
Miami developers Ronald and Michael Simkins paid $12.5 million for the eight-building office complex at 13926 SW 47th St. in December 2015. They immediately leased the campus back to previous owner Mattia College.
But by February, the college had collapsed, closing its West Kendall campus and leaving at least 500 students in educational limbo. Owner Antonio Mattia put the school into federal bankruptcy proceedings soon after.
“They basically shut down right after we purchased the property,” said Michael Simkins. “That was a bad day. ... Once they left, we just positioned the property to try to lease it or sell it, and thankfully we found a buyer to minimize our loss on the transaction.”
$11.5 millionSales price for Mattia College’s former West Kendall campus
Simkins closed on an $11.5 million sale on Oct. 14, property records show.
Before it shut down, the 22-year-old college — which offered nursing, ultra-sound and dental assisting programs — was in trouble with regulators.
Last summer, the U.S. Dept. of Education found problems with the school’s record-keeping and soon slowed the flow of federal student loans that keeps for-profit schools in business. In February, officials cut off funding altogether.
“We would stay away from the for-profit education sector in the future,” said Simkins, who has also proposed building a controversial electronic billboard tower in Overtown. “It’s so reliant on this government funding. If it gets cut off, they go out of business in weeks.”
An award-winning Miami Herald investigation Higher Ed Hustle found widespread fraud and predatory recruitment tactics in Florida’s for-profit college industry, including school officials falsifying attendance records and proof of student eligibility. Ernesto Perez, the owner of Dade Medical College, was recently charged with illegally shuttering the school after its sudden collapse last year. At least 24 for-profit college campuses in South Florida shut down in 2015 and 2016, according to state records. They include Mattia College, Dade Medical College, Devry University and ITT Technical Institute.
One in five Florida students is enrolled in for-profit, higher education institutes.
We would stay away from the for-profit education sector in the future.
A court-appointed trustee was charged with liquidating Mattia College’s assets.
The college’s biggest creditors were listed in court filings as three companies managed by the Simkins that owned the 52,000-square-foot business park. Their claim was initially pegged at $19.5 million.
In later court filings, the Simkins said they were owed about $300,000 in back rent and $3.9 million in damages. They may end up with much less.
“We’ve reached an agreement with the Simkins on their claim,” said Paul Singerman, an attorney representing the trustee. “There isn’t enough to pay all the creditors of this estate 100 cents on the dollar.”
Mattia College’s campus will become a medical office complex under its new owner, said Benjamin Silver, a broker at Institutional Property Advisers who handled the sale along with Doug Mandel of Marcus & Millichap.
The buyer is Care Medical Center Group, which runs a health clinic in Hialeah and plans to renovate the West Kendall facility. An attorney for the company did not respond to a request for comment.
[West Kendall] is one of the tightest office markets in Miami-Dade.
Silver said empty business parks are tough to sell because investors typically want to come in and have tenants in place paying rent.
But a lack of available space in heavily developed West Kendall meant the deal only took three weeks to close.
“It’s one of the tightest office markets in Miami-Dade,” Silver said.