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010316-mis-nws-island-lodge (copy)

The Montana Island Lodge on Sourdough Island in Salmon Lake is shown in this 2016 file photo.

The University of Montana Foundation confirmed Tuesday it sold Montana Island Lodge on Salmon Lake and identified the price at $1.6 million — far below an earlier $6.5 million sale price.

The 18,000-square-foot property was on the market for $6.5 million in spring 2014. The property was more recently offered at $2,499,000, according to the website of a real estate company that marked the property as "sold."

A warranty deed notes the title was transferred Monday to MEBC LLC with a mailing address of 40060 Paws Up Road in Bonner.

In January 2016, former UM vice president for finance Mike Reid said a significant price decrease from $6.5 million would not help the campus. At the time, UM was debating whether to put the property on the market again.

At $6.5 million, Reid said UM would recover maintenance money it put into the property, an estimated $1 million over 18 years as of 2014, and it would receive a share of the remaining $5.5 million. 

"If we had to drop that price a lot, it doesn't really benefit the institution," Reid said at the time. "We don't get the full sale amount."

A donor agreement notes proceeds from the sale will be split among the four UM campuses, he said earlier. The UM Foundation noted philanthropist Dennis Washington donated the property in 1995 for the benefit of UM.

The Missoulian requested information about the lodge from UM last week and followed up Tuesday with specific questions about the sale after noting the deed had been filed with the Missoula County Clerk and Recorder. UM Foundation President and CEO Cindy Williams responded with a news release confirming the sale, but she did not address the reason for the significant price drop.

"It will be a few weeks before details are compiled regarding maintenance costs and distributions to campuses," Williams said in an email.

The news release praised the donors: "The Washington family, through the Dennis and Phyllis Washington Foundation, is the largest private supporter of the University."

It also noted UM asked the foundation to sell the property after operating the lodge as a retreat and conference center "for several years." The property was listed for sale in the spring of 2014, and that listing expired in October 2015.

"Per the donor’s wishes, net proceeds from the sale will be distributed to the UM campuses in consultation with the Commissioner of Higher Education," according to the news release.

The property was listed on the website of Bergquist Donnelly Real Estate and PureWest Christies International Real Estate. In a text, Cole Bergquist declined to comment Tuesday but said he would be available to discuss the property in the near future.

Reporter Dillon Kato contributed to this story.

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University of Montana, higher education