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UD buys NCR headquarters, Old River Park

Research institute, alumni offices going into Patterson Blvd. building; sale price $18 million

DAYTON – The University of Dayton has purchased NCR Corp.’s former world headquarters property for $18 million.

Daniel J. Curran, university president, announced the purchase today, Monday, Dec. 21. The 115-acre parcel includes the NCR building at 1700 S. Patterson Blvd. and Old River Park.

UD will move its University of Dayton Research Institute to the 455,127-square-foot, five-story building on the Great Miami River. The facility also will house a proposed alumni center, graduate classes and academic conference space.

“The present impact is tremendous; the future impact may be even greater,” Curran said.

In a campus press conference to announce the acquisition Monday morning, Eric Fingerhut, chancellor of the Ohio Board of Regents, said the move would bolster a research institute increasingly valued nationally and internationally.

“This is not a well-kept secret,” Fingerhut said. “This is an announcement that is being watched today all over the world.”

The acquisition will solidify the Dayton region’s place as a hub for aerospace research in the state and beyond,” said Lisa Patt-McDaniel, Ohio Department of Development director.

“I think the fact that the University of Dayton has this vision to take this property and develop it the way they’re going to develop it will go a long way in our partnership ... to help the aerospace hub that we announced earlier this year,” Patt-McDaniel said.

In June, NCR announced it was moving its headquarters and most of 1,300 Dayton jobs to the Atlanta area by the end of 2010.

State Sen. Jon Husted, R-Kettering, today recalled a meeting between local officials and NCR representatives last winter and marveled at how far the community has come since then.

“The University of Dayton stepped up to lead,” Husted said.

NCR officials approached UD in July about acquiring the property, indicating “this was the best outcome that they could see,” Curran said.

To have the NCR building empty, potentially for years, would be a symbol of decline for the Dayton region.

“We put something in there that’s growing, that’s vibrant and that offers the potential for economic growth for the region,” Curran said.

The Montgomery County Auditor’s Office values the NCR property at $31.1 million.

The university will finance the purchase with private funds, Curran said.

NCR will lease back the building from UD until June 2010. It will continue to own and maintain a data center near the former headquarters building.

For the private Catholic university, having UDRI in Kettering Labs on its core campus “is almost like having the light under the basket,” Curran said. The acquisition gives the research institute a strong visual presence in the region, as well as space for growth, he said.

UDRI conducts nearly $100 million annually in sponsored research, but has been constrained by space for several years.

This month UDRI received the largest contract in its history – $49.5 million to develop advanced jet fuels and combustion technologies for the U.S. Air Force.

The research institute has a total staff of more than 400, and hired 35 people this year, according to university officials.

“The things the research institute is involved in, be it fuel, sensors, materials, are really the future of this region,” Curran said.

The university hopes to provide space for researchers to work with UDRI on projects that can be commercialized, leading to local job and business creation, he said.

Relocating UDRI research labs to the former NCR headquarters will provide additional space on the university’s core campus for its growing School of Engineering.

Today, Tony Saliba, the dean of UD’s School of Engineering, agreed that the move represents a rebirth for the engineering school, as well, giving the school more room for classes, manufacturing clinics and other programs.

The acquisition also eliminates the need to construct an alumni center, research labs and a parking tower that were planned for the former NCR property between Brown Street and South Main Street.

Those projects combined would have cost the university tens of millions of dollars, “so from a financial perspective this is just an outstanding move for the present and future of UD,” Curran said.

“It allows us to accelerate some of our plans very rapidly and allows us to have property that we can land-bank now and utilize in the future for future academic needs,” he said.

In 2005, UD purchased approximately 50 acres of land and buildings, between Patterson Boulevard and Brown Street, from NCR for $25 million, expanding its campus by nearly 25 percent. Since then, UD has purchased an additional five acres from NCR, according to university officials.

“We are no longer a landlocked campus,” Curran said. UD’s campus now spans 373 acres.

The proposed alumni center would present the history of the university, founded in 1850, for its more than 100,000 graduates, as well as prospective students and their parents.

The conference space would allow for alumni events and academic conferences that UD could not have hosted in the past, Curran said.

UD’s graduate programs could be expanded in the new facility, which is convenient to I-75 and offers a 1,600-space parking lot.

“One of our greatest challenges is that we don’t have the space right now and it’s very difficult for graduate students to come on campus,” Curran said.

Graduate enrollment increased 11 percent this fall, according to university officials.

Old River Park will continue to be managed by Dayton History through an operating agreement. The terms are still to be determined, Curran said.

The 48-acre park, completed in 1939 and once only open to NCR employees, retirees and their families, was closed by NCR in 1998 as a cost-saving move. Dayton History reopened the park in May.

“Old River Park is a way we can contribute back to the entire community,” Curran said.

“Dayton History really has some tremendous plans for that property. We hope that we can be working together well into the future,” he said.

A portion of the park could be used as an environmental lab for faculty and students, according to university officials.

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