By Steve Lackmeyer
Copyright © 2013, The Oklahoma Publishing Company
The University of Oklahoma’s $85 million purchase of the Presbyterian Health Foundation Park is being pushed back three months, but both sides say they’ve reached a “meeting of the minds” on the future of the bioscience technology incubator.
The research park at NE 8 and N Lincoln was started in 1994 by the Presbyterian Health Foundation, itself formed with the 1985 sale of Presbyterian Hospital to Hospital Corporation of America.
Dan Batchelor, attorney for the Oklahoma City Redevelopment Authority, told its board on Wednesday that the two sides of the deal were struggling to balance the shift in priorities from the role the foundation played in using the 700,000-square-foot research park to provide reduced rent for biotech startups to a market-based rent that will be charged by OU.
“The university won’t be in the business of subsidizing bioscience companies,” Batchelor said. “The University of Oklahoma will be expanding its role in health manpower, education and research.”
Batchelor suggested that assistance, however, might be provided by the Oklahoma City Redevelopment Authority, which can tap into growing tax increment finance district revenues for the Oklahoma Health Center.
Batchelor said the sale also will allow the Presbyterian Health Foundation to increase its grant program, which he predicted also will benefit biotech startups at the research park. When the sale plan was first announced last year, foundation President Carl Edwards said the organization had been unable to issue grants for several years due to endowment losses sustained in the 2008 stock market collapse.
Subsidized rent’s end
Batchelor advised Wednesday that even before the sale, the foundation was planning to end its role in providing subsidized rent — a program never required as part of the Urban Renewal redevelopment agreement for the property.
Michael Laird, an attorney representing the university, confirmed OU is planning to issue general obligation bonds to pay for the research park, with revenues from the park paying off the debt. The university also will be moving some of its operations into the park, with those departments to be charged market-based rent.
Batchelor said the closing, which had been set for July 1, will likely be finished by Oct. 1.
“A strenuous effort is being made to soften the financial outlay (by the startup tenants) on the front end,” Batchelor said. “This is a complex transaction, but all things considered, I think we have a meeting of the minds.”