Oklahoma City University appears to be the winner in the rivalry with Oklahoma City Public Schools to buy downtown’s former Central High School.
That rivalry was detailed in an exclusive story in The Oklahoman last week in which the university first publically disclosed its effort to buy the landmark from American Farmers & Ranchers to turn into a new home for the OCU Law School.
Oklahoma City Public Schools superintendent, meanwhile, was banking on buying the building to turn into new administrative offices for the district. The school system had upped its bid to at least $8.5 million in funding disclosed to the public; the asking price for the property was $11.5 million.
Ron Norick, trustees chairman at OCU, confirmed the letter of intent was signed by both the university and the insurance company late Friday afternoon. A move won’t likely take place for at least another year.
“They want to stay in the building between one and two years,” Norick told The Oklahoman. “They’ll stay in, and during that time, we’ll be doing some space planning, architectural work, and get to know how we’ll finish it out inside.”
Norick added American Farmers & Ranchers intends to stay in Oklahoma City and will be looking for a new home. The company currently has more than two floors at the school not being used.
Law School Dean Valerie Couch, meanwhile, said it’s possible renovations of the un-used floors could begin while American Farmers & Ranchers looks for new space.
“This building fits our needs so well – at least it appears to,” Couch said this afternoon. “We will have a due diligence period to study it to make sure it will fit all of our classrooms and clinics. Our preliminary look indicates that certainly will be the case.”
Many more questions and issues related to this matter need to be looked at in coming days. I’ll be on top of this story with more coverage to follow.
Below is an email sent by Couch on Friday evening:
Dear Members of the Executive Board –
This afternoon, American Farmers and Ranchers Mutual Ins. Co. accepted the Letter of Intent we submitted to them for purchase of the AFR building. Under the terms of the LOI, we will deliver a purchase agreement to them within two weeks reflecting the price agreed upon in the LOI. Upon completion and execution of the Purchase Agreement, we will enter a 60-day due diligence period to determine acceptability of the property. So there’s a lot of heavy lifting ahead in the next few weeks.
I wanted to share this good news with you today, and I will give you more details as the process develops. This secures for us an opportunity to determine the building’s feasibility and acceptability of condition and also gives us time to address the financial structure of the transaction with the University’s Board of Trustees and lenders who must ultimately approve any purchase of this nature.
I know this is short notice but I would like to set a meeting of our board for Friday July 27 beginning at noon. I will send you more information about the place and logistics as well as conference call instructions for those who would like to participate by phone.
More details to come . . . Have a great weekend!
And best regards to all of you! — Valerie