The Wilmington Friends Lower School campus will be sold to nearby Incyte Corporation for $50 million, school leaders confirmed for the first time Wednesday.
Details on the purchase price for the 20-acre property were outlined in a letter school board chair Susan Kelley and head of school Ken Aldridge sent to the Quaker school’s families, alumni and supporters.
The school leaders said Wilmington Friends School (WFS) had entered into an agreement of sale with the fast-growing biopharmaceutical company in October.
TSD was first to report the news in late October, when the school confirmed they would use the funds from a sale to consolidate all grades at the private school into one central campus while bolstering the endowment.
At a community meeting with the Alapocas neighborhood in November, some residents expressed concerns over the sale. School leaders sought to assure the neighborhood their views would be taken into consideration as plans for the sale proceeded.
Today’s letter said the school would be “sharing relevant feedback with Incyte” and moving forward with “exploration … of a site location for the new lower school building.” Kelley and Aldridge said a full plan should be in place by May 2020 and acknowledged that the sale is still contingent upon approval of the designs for the new lower school building by the Alapocas Maintenance Corporation.
The school leaders committed to sharing information as the process unfolds. A complete version of the letter is below.
We hope you and your families enjoyed a safe and restful Thanksgiving holiday. As we move toward the end of the semester, we wanted to share this update regarding our lower school property.
For the past several weeks, we have held a series of community meetings related to the announcement of the sale of our lower school property. The purpose of the first series of meetings was to provide more information and answer questions, while the purpose of the second series of meetings was to get feedback on location options for the lower school building on the middle/upper school campus. We thank everyone for your thoughtful input at these meetings and through individual correspondence.
To date, we’ve heard both support and concern for what is to come. Some concerns raised pertain to traffic and use of the lower school driveway, as well as Incyte’s plans for the lower school property. We understand Incyte will develop and share their plans with the community following the company’s due diligence of the lower school property.
We’ve also received questions about the arrangement of athletic fields and playground space and creative ideas to address those questions. At the same time, we’ve heard expressions of excitement for the new facility, a more close-knit school community, and the long-term sustainability of the School. Please be assured that we are committed to considering all of your feedback in the next phase of this journey.
A frequent question at many of the community meetings pertains to the sale price for the property and how the proceeds will be used. In October 2019, Wilmington Friends School entered into an agreement of sale with Incyte Corporation for Incyte to purchase about 20 acres of our lower school property for $50 million. Contingent on the close of the sale, this would allow us to build a state-of-the-art lower school on our middle/upper school campus. This might also make it possible for us to implement improvements to our middle/upper school building, and, in concert with current fundraising initiatives, grow our endowment to support students, faculty/staff, and families.
Our next steps include sharing relevant feedback with Incyte, further exploration by the Board of a site location for the new lower school building, and working with faculty and staff to develop plans for a lower school facility that will most effectively support our program. An internal steering committee will then work with our architect and project team during the schematic design phase to develop a formal plan, which we expect by early May 2020. One of the contingencies of the agreement of sale is to gain approval of this schematic design from the Alapocas Maintenance Corporation Board.
There still is much work ahead, and we will share new information as it becomes available. We want to keep the dialogue open, and we will continue to provide opportunities to obtain your feedback throughout this process. In the meantime, you are welcome to email [email protected] with input and/or questions or click here for more information.
Thank you again for your thoughtful questions and feedback as we continue this journey.
Susan Kelley, WFS Board Chair
Ken Aldridge, Head of School