20211022-LOC-Antioch

Monadnock Family Services plans to consolidate its Keene mental-health services into the building at 40 Avon St. that has long housed Antioch University New England.

Monadnock Family Services has entered an option-to-purchase agreement for Antioch University New England’s building on Avon Street as the graduate school looks for a new campus in Keene, the two announced in a joint news release Thursday.

Antioch plans to lease much of the facility from Monadnock Family Services for up to four years following the sale while finalizing plans for its new site, the release says.

“We have seen significant increased student enrollment and growth over the past several years,” William Groves, Antioch University’s chancellor, said in the release. “After almost 30 years at our Avon Street location, we are excited to be planning the development of a new, state-of-the-art campus in Keene to better meet the needs of our growing learning community.”

Karen Hamilton, an Antioch spokeswoman, said the university has been on the hunt for a new home in Keene since January 2020.

“We are only looking for facilities in Keene,” she told The Sentinel in an email. “We have three options at this point which are still in preliminary conversation and under a nondisclosure agreement.”

Tucked behind West Street, the building at 40 Avon St. formerly housed the Sprague & Carleton Furniture factory before Antioch acquired it in 1993, the release says. The university currently enrolls 1,153 students there in a variety of graduate programs. Last year, enrollment grew by 10 percent over the previous academic term, Hamilton said, and has jumped another five percent this year, with notable gains in Antioch’s clinical mental health counseling and clinical psychology programs.

Phil Wyzik, Monadnock Family Services’ CEO, says the aim is to bring all mental-health services the organization offers in the Elm City under a single roof, including child and family programs now at 64 Main St., adult services at 17 93rd St. and staff office space currently rented in Keene. The final phase, he said in an email to The Sentinel, will be moving administrative staff from 64 Main St. to 40 Avon St.

“Consolidating our services in Keene to one location has been a part of our strategic plan for some time,” Wyzik said in the release. “It is important to us that our offices are a purposeful and welcoming environment for those we serve. We’re excited to provide our mental health services in a space that reflects our quality of care.”

These plans will not affect services in Peterborough, the adult-care program in Jaffrey, a residential program in Keene or Monadnock Family Services’ satellite office in Winchester, according to Wyzik.

The nonprofit community mental health center hopes to take ownership of the Antioch property next June, he said. Under the option-to-purchase agreement, Monadnock Family Services can choose to buy the property anytime between now and Jan. 31, 2022, Hamilton said, and any potential sale would close by June 30 of next year. Antioch’s maximum of 48 months leasing the space back from Monadnock Family Services would start when the sale closes, she said.

The Avon Street facility will allow Monadnock Family Services “to house new opportunities for non-talk therapies to complement traditional clinical services,” devote space to telehealth and ready the organization for future growth, the release says.

And, Wyzik expressed hope that Monadnock Family Services’ physical proximity to Antioch will be mutually beneficial.

“Many of their academic programs relate perfectly to the work MFS does,” he said in his email. “... Our real world work environment may complement their academic curriculum and their robust academic culture may influence our service delivery.”This story has been updated to include additional information from Antioch University New England.