Regents approve building purchase

By Brian Slupski

Despite modest opposition, the Board of Regents Thursday cleared the way for NIU to purchase a building which it has rented for ten years.

The Regents, meeting in the Holmes Student Center, gave the green light for NIU to buy the Social Science Research Institute (SSRI) building.

NIU has leased the DeKalb building, which is located at Third and Locust, from owner Thomas Rosenow for the past ten years. NIU would now like to purchase the building while interest rates are at a low 6.25 percent.

NIU President John La Tourette said the appraised value of the building is $950,000. He said if NIU is able to purchase the building at that price the university would save $50,000 a year.

Presently NIU pays about $178,000 in rent each year. If NIU purchased the building at the appraised value, it would pay about $129,000 per year for a 10-year period.

La Tourette said NIU would save $500,000 over that 10-year period as compared to the cost of continuing the lease.

La Tourette said this was by far the best choice NIU could make. He said it would cost between $3.5 and $4 million to construct a new building to house the SSRI.

Regent Joe Ebbesen opposed the measure and said he felt the building was not functional in the use of space.

Ebbesen said he feels there is a lot of wasted space in the building because it was originally a hotel.

Ebbesen said he thought a better strategy for the university would have been to work out a two or three year lease, and then to build a facility on campus.

A campus facility would increase accessibility of the building for students and make geographical sense, Ebbesen said.

La Tourette said, “There is no logic to Mr. Ebbesen’s criticism.”

Rosenow said, “Ebbesen is an ophthalmologist who knows nothing about real estate; I am a developer who knows nothing about ophthalmology.”

Rosenow says he has been a “long-term player with the university,” and that he only deals with NIU in “win-win situations where both parties benefit.”

Rosenow said he began renting to NIU at a time the university needed a facility and had no money to build one.

He said NIU’s purchase of the building now would be a wonderful deal for the university, especially with the low interest rates, and he would get the money he originally invested in the building back and would be able to reinvest it.