The University of Oklahoma is planning to buy the Presbyterian Health Foundation's 700,000-square-foot research park just east of downtown Oklahoma City, officials with both organizations said Friday.
Carl Edwards, Presbyterian Health Foundation board chairman, said the deal likely would close in six to eight months. The amount of the proposed deal was not disclosed.
“We have a real estate contract executed,” Edwards said. “They still have some due diligence that they are going to do.”
A sale would provide OU room to expand its research facilities. The research park, just west of the OU Health Sciences Center along N Lincoln Boulevard between NE 8 and NE 4, includes modern biomedical research lab space and offices supported by modern communications and infrastructure systems.
OU President David Boren, in a statement issued by the university, said the school and the foundation have a long history of working together to advance health care.
“The OU Health Sciences Center will use the solid foundation established at the research park as a springboard to further biomedical research, encourage commercialization of equipment and technologies, and grow jobs in Oklahoma while advancing health care,” Boren said in a statement.
“The research park will continue to be one of Oklahoma's major engines for economic growth and resource for learning, discovery and innovation in today's knowledge-based, technologically driven, global society.”
Edwards said selling the research park will allow the foundation to regain its ability to issue grants, something it has been unable to do for the past few years because of costs associated with the research park and endowment losses sustained in the 2008 stock market plunge. The foundation has awarded about $100 million in grants to health-related organizations, he said, but none in the past several years.
The research park's revenues generally have exceeded the foundation's costs, Edwards said, but the foundation also subsidizes rent for some bioscience startup companies that lease space in the research park, which is debt-free. The park is roughly 90 percent occupied, Edwards said.
“We thought it would be a good fit if they wanted to buy the park and have some research buildings already built, and we would have money to replenish our grant endowment so we could start making grants again,” Edwards said. The property also includes land that could accommodate new buildings, he said.
Dr. Dewayne Andrews, senior vice president and provost for the OU Health Sciences Center, said the deal would benefit the goal of both parties to boost biomedical research.
“OU's purchase of this property will establish a continuing affiliation dedicated to supporting biomedical research companies in their efforts to commercialize new equipment and technologies while significantly enhancing the infrastructure available to support increasingly successful OU Health Sciences Center research activities,” Andrews said in a statement.
Edwards said Stanton L. Young and the Presbyterian Health Foundation, working with the Oklahoma City Urban Renewal Authority, began putting together the land “lot-by-lot” on which the research park was built in the mid-1980s with the hope of building a state-of-the-art research park tied to the medical center.
“I think probably in their wildest dreams they would not have expected to be as successful as it was as fast as it was,” he said. “It's turned out to be a great economic development arm for the health center by providing a place for their scientists who have companies that they're trying to bring along to all be able to office right near to the health center and be in position to have conversations with people doing the same thing in the same park.”
The park “is very definitely a success story for Oklahoma,” Edwards said.