Photo Caption: Ohio University owns the HDL center on West Union Street.
Ohio University has informed state government and private-sector tenants in its HDL Center on West Union Street that they will have to find new lodgings sometime in the next six months to a couple of years.
In November, Ohio University officials recommended that the OU Board of Trustees consider reconfiguring the use of campus buildings, to shrink the administrative footprint, "collapse and consolidate" academic uses in the prime land at the core of campus, and move administrative functions to an outer ring.
At the time, OU Vice President for Finance and Administration Stephen T. Golding noted that the HDL Center on West Union Street, which OU owns and where it has some of its offices, could potentially house 65 percent of the university's administrative functions if its other tenants were removed.
Now, OU is following up on that notion.
In a letter dated Dec. 28, the university told all its HDL tenants that the university plans to not renew their leases, though they may not have to leave the facility right away. The letter sent to the Athens County Clerk of Courts office, for example – which has its title office in the HDL Center – says that the agency's current lease ends July 1, and OU wanted to give notice by the end of 2012 that it did not plan to renew.
The letter, from OU Deputy General Counsel Nicolette Dioguardi, goes on to say that OU officials "have determined that all leaseholds not directly related to use by Ohio University programs will be terminated over the course of the next couple of years. I am not in a position today to give you an exact termination date, other than to say it will not be sooner than July 1, 2013, and may be extended further over the next couple of years."
She adds that affected businesses and agencies can contact Donna Goss, OU's director of real estate, for more information.
The letter notes that all the HDL tenants – People's Bank, Wells Fargo Advisors Financial Network, the Ohio Lottery Commission, the title office, the deputy registrar license agency and the driver's exam station, are getting the same notice, though individual termination and removal dates "will depend on the plans that the university is considering for its own use of the facility, as well as taking into consideration the tenant's needs." It states that OU "will assist you the best that it can in making this transition."
Officials at both of the two private businesses, People's Bank and Wells Fargo, declined to comment on the notice this week.
Clerk of Courts Ann Trout said Wednesday she would be ready to comment on the news after speaking with Goss, with whom she said she has an appointment Monday morning, at which time "we're going to discuss what the options are."
The NEWS was unable to reach Goss for comment Wednesday.
In June, OU finalized a five-year lease to rent the old Woolworth building on South Court Street, to use for "swing" office space while various campus buildings are undergoing renovations.
OU decided in 2008 to buy the HDL Center for $9.25 million.