Wilmington private school Cape Fear Academy recently paid a little over $5 million for 11 acres next to its campus on South College Road, intending to eventually use the property for expansion.
The acquisition means the school's main campus, 3900 S. College Road, is now 37 acres. While the school has no immediate plans for the property, previously owned by Trinity United Methodist Church, "we believe the additional acreage will enable us to serve more students and expand our programming by building on the foundations of our academic program with our rich variety of extracurricular offerings," said Ed Ellison, the academy's head of school, this week.
The school has grown steadily since its founding in 1967.
Cape Fear Academy currently educates 720 students from pre-K to 12th grade, Ellison said. "In recent years, we've experienced increased demand for our services, leading to waiting lists in many grades," he said.
The next task after the purchase, which was financed with borrowed funds, is to develop a plan for the property.
"The leadership team and the board of trustees will spend I would say easily the next 24 months developing a campus master plan for both our existing campus and this new parcel that we think will provide us with the opportunity to reimagine how our dynamic school might better serve eager and ambitious students for generations to come," Ellison said.
The property is already zoned to allow a school use, which will be an advantage when it's time to build additional facilities, he said.
"There are few moments in the life of a school where you can say, 'Let's go acquire some property immediately adjacent to our school, and so we always knew strategically that if we could get this, it would be a great thing to do," Ellison said. "And so we don't honestly have an immediate plan for the use of the land, but we want to be very thoughtful because we know there will never be another opportunity like this one."