LINWOOD — A home on Shore Road bought by the state in 1970 to serve as the president’s house for Richard Stockton College is now vacant, but college officials said they plan to use it to attract high-profile visiting faculty or eventually even a new president.
“Over the short term it could be an incentive to attract someone like a top Holocaust scholar,” Stockton spokesman Tim Kelly said. “Over the long term we would like to keep it viable for use as the president’s home.”
The almost 2,900-square-foot home was purchased in September 1970 for $64,500 by the now-defunct state Department of Higher Education. The three-bedroom house sits on almost two acres bordering the Linwood Country Club and has been home to three Stockton presidents, most notably the late Vera King Farris, who lived there during her 20-year tenure at the college.
Farris’ termination agreement when she retired in June 2003 allowed her to say in the house until December of that year. New President Herman J. Saatkamp Jr. instead received a housing allowance of $4,000 a month, which was increased to $4,300 in 2005. He and his wife built a home near the campus in Galloway Township.
In 2004, college officials considered selling the Linwood property but discovered that since, officially, it was owned by the state, proceeds from the sale would go to the state treasury, not the college. Stockton had maintained the home, which underwent an almost $100,000 renovation in 1996, and officials did not want to lose money on the investment.
In 2005, the home was rented to the cancer support group Gilda’s Club South Jersey, which paid the college $2,100 a month plus utilities, insurance and expenses. But the group received only a temporary use variance from the city and moved out in 2008.
When Matthew Altier was hired as vice president for finance in July 2008, the college offered him the house rent-free as an incentive to take the job. Altier had a home in California that was proving hard to sell in the recession, and he was reluctant to move and have to support two homes. The arrangement was originally described as temporary, but Altier continued to live in the home until last month when he left for a new job in Florida.
A spokesman for the state Treasury Department said the state would not sell the house unless Stockton formally said it no longer wanted it. In an email, Treasury spokesman Andrew Pratt wrote that Stockton would first have to declare the house surplus property. The state would then have to offer it to other state agencies for use. If no one else wanted it, it would be sold as surplus.
Balsley-Losco real estate agent Tom Kimble, of Linwood, said that even if the college no longer wanted the house, he would not advise selling it at this time because prices are still depressed. He called the site a “trophy property,” citing its large lot, proximity to the golf course and history as the college president’s house.
“It has a reputation,” he said. “And that is one of the largest lots in Linwood.”
The site is assessed at $412,100 by the city, but the state Department of Community Affairs property-tax database lists Linwood’s overall assessment at only 65 percent of actual value. Kimble said he would expect the home to sell for at least $650,000 in today’s market, but it could be worth much more in the future.
“I haven’t been inside,” he said. “But it is a home with a legacy. At this time, I would think that it is better held as an asset.”
One drawback of the home has been its 12-mile distance from the college. College presidents’ homes often serve as reception areas for small dinners and college events. At one time, the college trustees even discussed building a president’s home on campus. But the new Campus Center and the college’s acquisition of the Seaview resort in Galloway Township last year now provide venues for fundraising and other events, so the location of the president’s home is no longer a major issue.
Kelly said the home would need some paint and sprucing up, and possibly furnishings for a new tenant, but it does not need any major renovations.
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