If Goshen College has learned one fact about buying a house in the last 15 years, it’s that you need patience – lots and lots of patience.

The college just bought the last house in a line of seventeen houses along College Avenue as part of a long-term master plan to open the campus up to the community, a process which has taken more than 15 years. The plan is to eventually demolish the houses, which are located between 9th and 12th Streets; in short term, the college will use them as rentals.

Jim Histand, VP of finance, helped to develop the master plan and spoke about the process as an ongoing one for the future.

“When you set out long-term plans for the campus, you’re trying to identify your 20 to 40-year goals,” said Histand. “We would like to open up our edge of campus in an inviting way to the community, plus provide a good accessibility into our campus, which right now we don’t really have.”

Ideally, Histand said, the college would eventually build a new campus entrance near the music center. For now, plans are on hold until the current strategic planning, reaccreditation and budget restructuring processes are completed.

Because the school rents out the houses, demolishing the houses requires serious consideration since it would incur costs and lose revenue.

“We need to get beyond our goals before we launch into another major process,” said Histand. “If we got rid of the houses, that would be a double whammy; we would lose the revenue we earn, plus pay to demolish them.”

The buying process was a long one in part because the college waited to purchase each house until it was for sale. In 2002, the college owned 12 of the 17 houses on College Avenue and the seventeenth purchase was completed three months ago.

The Campus Master Plan, according to its website, is “a conceptual footprint of the college of the future in terms of its physical location, major buildings and grounds.”           The long-term master plan was last updated in 2007 in a 15-month “campus-driven process,” according to Histand.

A space planning committee, which included Histand and others such as Bill Born, vice president of student life; Melissa Kinsey, former professor of business; Merrill Krabill, professor of art; and Anita Stalter, vice president for academic affairs, collaborated with The Collective, Inc., an architectural design firm in Ohio, to test new design plans.

They also worked with a 30-person Oversight Committee made up of individuals from the campus, local community, students and retired faculty.

“Master plans typically have a shelf-life of about seven to 10 years,” said Histand. “We’ll implement an update sometime in the next three years.”

In the meantime, Goshen College will stay a homeowner.

“That edge of our campus blocks the community from us. We want to open it up,” he said.