University officials and members of a coalition seeking to buy and preserve a Penn-owned farm in Bucks County held a "positive" meeting yesterday, but failed to reach an agreement on the property, according to a member of the group. The University put the 211-acre former Fine Arts center in Upper Makefield Township up for sale last month, but extended the deadline for purchasing offers by three weeks after neighbors and legislators expressed concern that a developer would buy the property and change the character of the wealthy, rural area. With Friday's deadline approaching, University officials yesterday gave the coalition of preservation groups and neighbors five additional days to come up with an offer, making the latest deadline November 26. "There is hope. Things look positive," said Christopher Chandor, a farm neighbor who sits on the board of the Heritage Conservancy, the nonprofit Bucks County group leading the campaign to purchase the property. "I think everybody was pleased with the outcome of the meeting." Chandor and University spokesperson Ken Wildes declined to provide details of the discussion, the University's asking price -- which was recently quoted at $5.5 million -- or the coalition's offer. Two developers have already made undisclosed offers for the farm, several people involved with the situation said last week. "We want to work with the conservancy as much as we possibly can," Wildes said. But he stressed that the University is discussing the sale with "all interested parties." Four neighbors have each pledged $250,000 to the effort, and the township may contribute another $600,000. Pennsylvania's farmland preservation program may also give some money to help buy the land, according to U.S. Rep. James Greenwood (R-Pa.), who is also closely involved with the campaign to purchase the property. The University received the farm in 1975 from the estate of financier Monroe Gutman. Located about 30 miles northeast of University City, it flourished for a decade as a center for about a dozen Fine Arts graduate students, who converted several barns on the property into studio space. Officials cut the program in the mid-1980s to save money. About 10 people attended yesterday's on-campus meeting, including University Treasurer Scott Lederman, Managing Director of Real Estate Tom Lussenhop and representatives from the real estate firm Jackson Cross, the University's broker on the sale. Heritage Conservancy President Cliff David Jr., Chandor and another neighbor represented the coalition.Comments powered by Disqus
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