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Evangelical Christian School of Fort Myers made the deal official this week, purchasing the Hodges University campus for $28.6 million. 

The property consisting of two buildings at 4501 Colonial Blvd. and 4445 Winkler Ave., at the northeast corner of Colonial and Winkler, will continue to serve as Hodges’ home through June. 

By this fall, it should be the home of the ECS high school, according to a news release from LSI Companies. ECS headmaster John Hunte could not be reached for comment. The school announced the pending purchase on social media March 5, but the deal didn’t close until April 23, the brokers said. 

LSI CEO Justin Thibaut and colleague Christi Pritchett brokered the property on behalf of UDP Gemini One LLC. Randy Krise of Krise Commercial Group represented the school, which has had its high school facilities at 8237 Beacon Blvd. since 1973. ECS, which has about 1,300 students, plans to continue using that campus for preschool through middle school and athletics. The two campuses are about 5.3 miles apart. 

“We had multiple suitors for the property,” Thibaut said. “It was a competitive environment. And we had buyers of all types for this facility on the table. It wasn’t just for higher education. We had office users. We had folks talking about converting it for other uses. We had others who just liked the premium location of the site.” 

The sale price exceeded the listing price of $26 million by $2.8 million. Despite a bidding war that raised the price, Krise called it a “super” deal for ECS, given the site’s proximity to Interstate 75. 

There was a little bit of a bidding war,” Krise said. “It’s the kind of asset that you had better have a use for. And they had a use and a need. There were other people trying to buy it. Still got a steal. That’s quality construction. It’s 110,000-plus square feet on 17 acres, on one of the better corners there. It’s basically across the street from what’s going to be a new hospital.” 

In today’s environment of skyrocketing construction costs, building a replica of the current Hodges campus would probably be about double the sale price, Thibaut said. 

“Let’s look at it this way,” Thibaut said. “It’s $28.6 million at 110,000 square feet. That’s $260 per square foot. To replicate today? It’s probably $400 per square foot, plus the land.” 

That would be about $44 million in construction costs, plus the land price. Instead, ECS can pretty much turn the key and move inside, Thibaut said, at about half that price. 

There are 43 classrooms onsite. 

“The basics for a school are here,” Thibaut said. “Classrooms, a library, meeting space, a cafeteria. As far as what ECS needs to do, I’m not privy to that, but it’s a school, whether it be a high school or a higher educational facility. It was a huge opportunity for ECS.” 

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