By Ted Streuli
Courtesy of The Journal Record
OKLAHOMA CITY – The Presbyterian Health Foundation Research Park has been sold to the University of Oklahoma for $85 million. The deal closed Tuesday.
OU regents in Sept. 2012 approved the purchase of the Presbyterian Health Foundation Research Park, the 700,000-square-foot development that houses a number of biomedical startup companies. At the time, Dr. Dewayne Andrews, senior vice president and provost of the OU Health Sciences Center, told The Journal Record that one goal is to expand basic cancer research. To do that, the university needs to hire more research scientists. However, they need more lab space for animal testing, which is necessary before any cancer research trials begin in people. The acquisition of the research park would solve that space problem.
“I don’t think we could really recruit new scientists to a research space without labs to put them in,” Andrews said last year.
The nearby facilities will give the university an opportunity to restructure its research operations and infrastructure. Rather than staying in proverbial silos, scientists from many different disciplines will be in close proximity.
OU President David Boren issued a written statement when the deal was struck.
“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 the 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.”
The Oklahoma City Urban Renewal Authority worked with Stanton L. Young and the Presbyterian Health Foundation to acquire the land on which the research park was built. When the sale contract was signed last year, the research park was 90 percent occupied, debt free, and operating in the black. A 2008 report by Larkin Warner, Regents Professor Emeritus at Oklahoma State University and Robert Dauffenbach, Associate Dean at OU’s Price College of Business, estimated the direct annual economic impact of the research park at $93.8 million per year, with an additional $45.6 million of indirect economic impact. That report also tied the research park’s success closely to the Health Sciences Center and the Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation.
“The combination of visionary business leaders, results-oriented governmental leadership, good decisions at the right time, and constant collaboration has allowed all three to flourish,” the authors wrote. “In particular, it has given the Presbyterian Health Foundation the opportunity to lead the commercialization of bioscience research in Oklahoma and to create an environment for continued growth.”
The Presbyterian Health Foundation will continue operation as a grant-making organization with a focus on biomedical companies based in the Health Sciences Center.
“PHF will be back in the business of making grants, and the Redevelopment Authority will be using the tools we have to promote bioscience as well,” said Cathy O’Connor, president and CEO of The Alliance for Economic Development of Oklahoma City. “We have created a bioscience coalition to develop ways to continue to use the tools we have to develop the bioscience industry in Oklahoma.”
That coalition includes PHF, the Greater Oklahoma City Chamber of Commerce, the Health Sciences Center, i2E, and the Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation.
The research park, built for $109 million, has a fair market value of $125 million according to Oklahoma County Assessor records.
Presbyterian Health Foundation Chairman Carl Edwards said little changed between the time the contract was signed and Monday’s closing.
“It required a huge amount of cooperation with he Urban Renewal Authority,” Edwards said. “They had to be involved to much greater extent than originally thought, and they were fabulous to work with.”