By Sydney Cromwell, Editor-in-Chief
President Andrew Westmoreland said that Samford has signed a letter of intent with Time, Inc. to buy the Southern Progress buildings and their 28-acre property.
In an August meeting, when the deal was still only a possibility, Westmoreland said he would like to use the two buildings nearest to campus for classrooms for the College of Health Sciences, which includes the McWhorter School of Pharmacy, the Ida V. Moffett School of Nursing and the Schools of Health Professions and Public Health. The purchase would also open up new parking options.
The Southern Progress offices will be moved to the third building, which is farthest from campus, and Time will rent the space from the university. Some rooms in the other two buildings could also be leased out until Samford programs expand to fill the space.
The three buildings total 398,000 square feet and the lot’s parking deck has over 1,000 spaces, which could be shared between students and tenants.
Westmoreland said the university will create vehicle and pedestrian access to the new buildings so students will not have to use Lakeshore Drive to get to class.
Time began looking at selling the buildings in May. Since Samford originally owned the land, the university had the right to make the first bid. Over the summer, Westmoreland and Vice President for Financial Affairs Buck Brock flew to New York to discuss a possible purchase with Time executives.
Westmoreland said that the deal made today includes 45 days of due diligence before closing, so the purchase will not be completed until near the end of the year. It will likely take a full year to move into the new space, and Westmoreland anticipated the earliest date to begin classes in the new buildings would be spring or summer 2016. The university has not decided whether that move will be made all at once or in phases.
Employees at Southern Progress were informed of the sale today at 4 p.m., and Westmoreland plans to send more detailed information out to students and faculty later today.