The historic All Hallows College has rejected offers of more than €20m from construction firms and sold its campus to Dublin City University for less than €10m.
The deal was struck after trustees of the 170-year-old Catholic institution decided they wanted the campus to remain an educational facility.
Neither All Hallows nor DCU would disclose the sale price when the deal was formally announced yesterday.
However, sources told the Irish Independent that there were at least two bids above €20m from within the construction industry for the 6.74-hectare campus in Drumcondra on Dublin’s northside.
Much lower bids were made by two third-level institutions. DCU, which has accredited degrees offered by All Hallows in recent years, won out. It is understood the deal involves a cash payment of less than €10m.
In addition, DCU will take on redundancy obligations in respect of existing All Hallows staff. It will also allow students at All Hallows to finish their courses. This part of the deal has been valued at between €3m and €4m.
Any surplus left from the deal is to be kept by the All Hallows Trust and will be used “to further the mission and ethos” of the Vincentian religious order, which began running the college in 1890s.
All Hallows spokeswoman Carolanne Henry said three criteria had informed trustees when selecting DCU’s bid.
These were a commitment to assist students in finishing their studies, care for staff through providing “the best possible” redundancy arrangement, and providing the college with some form of legacy.
“It will be known as the DCU All Hallows Campus. The buildings are retaining their names and there will be respect, care and commitment around our archives,” she said.
The deal brings to an end to over a year of speculation about the future of the historic campus. DCU had been the frontrunner since at least February when it was identified as the preferred bidder.
The college was placed on the market last year after management announced it would need a major cash injection to remain in operation.
The decision followed a controversy over an unsuccessful attempt by All Hallows to sell letters written by the late US First Lady Jackie Kennedy to an Irish priest, Fr Joseph Leonard, in a bid to raise funds of up to €3m.
Fr Leonard had lived in the college before his death in 1964.
However, a planned auction was abandoned after the Vincentian Fathers asserted ownership over the letters.