A risky buy
William Peace University’s use of its endowment to purchase the Shops at Seaboard Station is extremely risky.
Seaboard is a success because independent merchants have put their hearts and souls and fortunes into building excellent businesses with loyal customers. But these merchants will not want to keep investing in temporary quarters. If they think WPU will eventually shut down Seaboard to expand the campus, they are already looking for new locations. And it will be difficult to replace these merchants, because of Seaboard’s hidden location and uncertain future.
If the merchants start to leave, WPU will soon be stuck with an empty shopping center that is earning no rent but is costing taxes, insurance and maintenance. So if WPU is determined to embark on this risky move, it must take extraordinary steps to retain the current merchants. Otherwise, this could sink the shopping center and the university, too!