Marlboro campus sale to music school is finalized

The Marlboro College campus. Courtesy photo

Marlboro Music announced Tuesday it has completed its purchase of the former Marlboro College campus. 

As part of the deal, Marlboro Music agreed to pay $2.74 million to Democracy Builders Fund, a nonprofit once helmed by a man now accused of federal financial crimes. The music school and festival will also release Democracy Builders from a $1.5 million debt owed to Marlboro Music, which has leased space on the campus for decades and invested heavily in its capital infrastructure. An estimated $100,000 in closing costs will be covered by Marlboro Music.

Democracy Builders, which purchased the campus from Marlboro College in 2020 and promised to create a new higher education venture for marginalized students, paid just $225,000 in cash at the time.

Much of the money being paid to Democracy Builders must be repaid either to creditors or to Marlboro Music. According to a “notice of non-objection” released by the Vermont Attorney General’s Office, the parties have said that the sale’s proceeds will first go to campus creditors before 50% of the remaining amount is sent back to Marlboro Music to support its programming onsite. Democracy Builders can keep the rest.

“Potash Hill has been our home since Marlboro Music was founded in 1951 as a center for the advanced study of music,” Christopher Serkin, Marlboro Music’s president and trustee chair, said in a statement. “This purchase ensures that our program will continue supporting the development of musical leaders here for generations to come.”

Ownership of the campus has been in dispute after Democracy Builders apparently sold — and then apparently nullified the purchase of — the campus to Type 1 Civilization, an LLC controlled by a Canadian businessperson with grandiose plans to open a cryptocurrency and tech hub on the 500-acre parcel. Type 1 received an undisclosed sum to allow the deal to go through.

“The sale was really with Democracy Builders, and they received just about all of the payment,” Brian Potter, a spokesperson for the music festival, wrote in an email. “We reached a settlement with Type 1 that made the sale possible, although per advice of counsel, we cannot specify the precise amount.”

Marlboro Music has formed a subsidiary nonprofit organization, Potash Hill, Inc., to hold title to the campus and oversee its maintenance and operations.

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Marlboro campus sale to music school is finalized