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Those institutions, along with other universities around the country, want to create a diverse portfolio of investments.

Ivy League universities are traditionally (and rightly) thought of as centers of world-class education. But new findings from Reonomy say they, along with other schools around the country, are also becoming real estate power players due to their impressive collection of assets.

The Reonomy report, which breaks down the real estate investments and commercial properties owned by Ivy League Universities, reveals Yale University is New Haven’s largest landlord and that Harvard University is the wealthiest university in the world, with an endowment of $40.9 billion.

“Universities have always had an interest in investing in real estate, and we have seen that as endowments have grown, so have real estate investments off-campus,” says Nikki Russell, Marketing Manager for Reonomy.

The other Ivy League schools are also amassing impressive real estate collections. Princeton University owns approximately 160 nearby residences, which can be purchased by eligible faculty and staff.

Princeton provides a Tenancy-In-Common Program that allows eligible faculty and staff to enter into a co-ownership agreement with the school to purchase residences within a nine-mile radius of Nassau Hall or within the city of Trenton. It isn’t alone in trying to tackle affordability.

“As for concerns with housing affordability, there have been some interesting efforts made by Stanford and Princeton to offer subsidized or provide housing for employees, though it’s unclear what the driving force for those programs are, and if they are effective,” Russell says.

Housing isn’t the only focus of these universities. Cornell University owns 486 properties, which are the most of any Ivy League school. Columbia University has spent $6.3 billion on its new Manhattanville campus expansion.

Universities want to create a diverse portfolio of investments, and real estate is an essential part of that, according to Russell.

“We see most of these universities reducing their endowment’s dependence on domestic marketable securities, and reallocating to real estate and private equity,” she says. Russell says the uptick in real estate allocations has been most noticeable at Yale in the past 20 years. The University of Pennsylvania has been investing in surrounding communities since the ’90s. The school is now Philadelphia’s largest private employer. “But the increasing investments made with commercial partners [likely led by UPenn’s example] is something that has expanded to other schools,” Russell says. “Brown’s investment in South Street Landing is an example of this. And it surely isn’t limited to just the Ivy League Universities—all universities with large endowments likely have a stake in real estate assets as part of their portfolio.”

University holdings are expanding beyond housing and offices. For instance, Dartmouth College maintains a portion of the Appalachian Trail. But that’s not all.

“In terms of asset holdings outside of the university’s mission, one of the most interesting findings was around holdings outside of the core areas of interest for these Universities, such as acres of agricultural and vacant land in Texas and Montana, and the sheer size of Cornell’s land investments,” Russell says.

Les Shaver | February 24, 2020 at 07:01 AM on Globest.com