Downsizing, MICA plans to sell Bolton Hill properties

Facing reduced student enrollment and revenues, Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA) has decided to sell several Bolton Hill properties, beginning with two residences located on Mt. Royal Ave.

Martin Lemelle, CFO at the college, told BHCA’s President Amy Sheridan that it soon will put on the market buildings at 1500 and 1502 W. Mt. Royal Ave., near Mosher St. Both were built in 1880.

1500 W Mount Royal Ave. is a 4,200 square foot townhouse on an 1,860 square foot lot with 3 bathrooms, according to the online real estate firm Redfin. It estimates the home’s value is $629,897.

1502 W. Mt. Royal Ave. is a 3,978 square foot similar townhouse with 4 bathrooms. Redfin says it is worth $682,925.

Lemelle says additional property sales will follow. These two, he said, were purchased to be used for faculty housing are no longer needed and are unoccupied. The other properties to be unloaded over the next 12-18 months are three residences that were used to house graduate students but are no longer needed. He said MICA has excess capacity in its traditional dormitories.

The sales come on the heels of faculty and staff cutbacks as the school’s enrollment during and post-COVID dipped from about 2100 to 1900. Many students who were enrolled from mainland China who returned home at the onset of the pandemic have neither returned nor been replaced by others from China. In an interview with The Bulletin last year MICA President Sammy Hoi said that geopolitical issues and China’s lengthy clampdown because of COVID were factors in the student losses. Historically, international students were about one-third of MICA enrollment.

Hoi has announced that he will leave the school at the end of the school year.

According to the Baltimore Banner, MICA owns property and equipment worth close to $170 million and has some $117 million in endowment funds. 

Total enrollment at most higher education institutions in the U.S. has been declining since at least spring 2018 and worsened during the pandemic, according to data from the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center. The Banner said MICA revenues dropped by 25 percent from $68.9 million in fiscal year 2020 to $50.3 million in 2021. Meanwhile, expenses dropped from $92.6 million in 2020 to under $75 million in 2021.

Neighborhood realtor Jessica Dailey said she would list the properties.