Board of Trustees buys back $8.5 million property

The MSU Board of Trustees has given administration the go-ahead to buy back an $8.5 million property it once sold to the Michigan Biotechnology Institute in Lansing.

When it was first sold in 1985, the property was only worth about $300. Through the years, the site became home to a 129,286-square-foot research facility that is occupied by the institute and a handful of other companies.

Although the institute, which is owned by the MSU Foundation, will stay, Executive Vice President for Administrative Services Satish Udpa said if the building is acquired it will be used as a “surge space” that would temporarily house research endeavors that are displaced by renovations.

Although the Board of Trustees approved the purchase at its Friday meeting, the MSU Foundation, which currently owns the entire lot, must also approve the transaction.

The property is located at 3815 Technology Blvd. and sits on a 15-acre plot of land. In addition to being a surge space the building also would be used by the MSU University Research Organization and for state economic development.

The MSU Foundation was established to support the university and its research endeavors. In 2013, the foundation awarded $9.5 million to the university.

“While the assets of the foundation are designated for the benefit of the university, this kind of transaction represents the arm’s-length relationship and the separate board that the foundation has that must act in its own fiduciary self interest,” President Lou Anna K. Simon said during last week’s Board of Trustees meeting.

Paul Hunt, MSU’s senior associate vice president for research and graduate studies, noted that the laboratories it contains that could add to the quality of research at MSU.

“The effect on students is pervasive but indirect,” Hunt said. “So that when they (the MSU Foundation) support research, obviously there are students in research labs who benefit.”

If the property is purchased by MSU, $5 million will be paid to the foundation at the time of acquisition and the other $3.5 million will be paid via rent forgiveness to MBI.

In addition to the price of purchasing the property, about $194,000 will go into the site for renovations throughout the next one to five years.

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