MoreU Park - The Smoke Screen Continues...
But at least some faculty members can penetrate the haze...
Senate Research Committee Monday, April 27, 2009
Dr. Muscoplat said that UMore Park will be a revenue center for the University, not a cost center.
Professor Dahlberg said he would like to see a financial plan that includes the dollars invested and an estimate of when the University will start to receive money. The University has invested about $5 million and will need to put in a little more, Dr. Muscoplat said, but he expects that money will be paid back all at once because of the value of the gravel to the University's mining partner.
The University will need to spend more on real estate development, but it will make money from the gravel.
Professor Hays asked what the projected revenue from the known gravel deposits would be.
Dr. Muscoplat said that 3-5 million tons per year would be sold, over several decades, at perhaps $1 per ton. It is a big number, but it is only possible to sell so much into the local market in any one year. This will not be a windfall, he emphasized.
Professor Hays inquired if they expected to use the money for development. They do not, Dr. Muscoplat said; they expect the developers to pay all the costs of development, not the University.
[And infrastructure support, Dr. Muscoplat? Do you intend to tap the state for this?]
Will they build quickly in order get a payoff, Professor Hays then asked? The University must be careful, Dr. Muscoplat responded, and developers will be required to adopt plans that carry the University's imprimatur; the University will be in control.
[You mean the way we are in control of Fairview Hospital, Dr. Muscoplat?]
Professor Dengel commented that he would not want to live near dump trucks hauling gravel; he would want the industry cleared out, and usually the gravel is removed and only then is the land developed.
The take-home message, in his view, Professor Cohen said, is that gravel pits are a dicey business and long-term development around gravel is a leap of faith he is not willing to take.
Professor Ruggles said that aside from the research platform, the University could just sell the land on the market.
Dr. Muscoplat said they studied that alternative and concluded that developing the land with a plan would generate ten times as much money as simply selling the land.
[So let's be clear about this. The bulk of the money that is waved at us by the Morrill Hall crowd is in development, not gravel. Right now the landscape is littered with developers and car salesman who have gone under. The U should stay the hell away from the development business...]
Why would the University get into the development business, Professor Ruggles asked? That is also his question, Professor Dahlberg said: is it proper for the University to do this? It would be investing for academic reasons, but only for a few faculty members. He said he did not know of any other university that has taken on a project like this.
It was agreed that the Committee would return to this subject in the fall, and would wish at that time to see financial projections.
There are so many holes in this plan that you could drive enough gravel trucks through to fill a football stadium.
And we have a business school at this University? What do the Carlson folks have to say?
God help us.
And let's look at the management team:
UMore Park Executive Committee
Charles C. Muscoplat, Chair, Vice President for Statewide Strategic Resource Development
Kathryn Brown, Vice President and Chief of Staff
L. Steven Goldstein, President and CEO, University of Minnesota Foundation
Robert Jones, Senior Vice President for System Academic Administration
Larry Laukka, University Distinguished Fellow and UMore Park Director of Commercial Development
Kathleen O'Brien, Vice President for University Services
Richard Pfutzenreuter, Vice President and CFO
Mark Rotenberg, General Counsel
E. Thomas Sullivan, Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost
And who is Larry Luakka? Google pulls up:
Larry Laukka, who built Centennial Lakes and Edinborough in Edina, will take his next residential project across the border into Bloomington.
Laukka, president of Edina-based Laukka Jarvis Inc., said his firm this week purchased a research and fabrication facility at 10701 Lyndale Ave. owned by Eden Prairie-based SurModics Inc. The company plans to raze the building and build 27 acres of residential development.