Knight Campus updates, proposed action on tap at BOT meetings

UO Board of Trustees 2016

Bringing the Phil and Penny Knight Campus for Accelerating Scientific Impact to life will involve thousands of steps, and the Board of Trustees of the University of Oregon will hear about ongoing progress from the interim leaders and will consider action to move the project forward during its regular meetings Dec. 1 and 2.

The Thursday and Friday meetings, the board’s first to be held in Portland at the White Stag Building, will include a presentation from Patrick Phillips, acting executive director for the Knight Campus, who will share progress on the search for a permanent director, facilities planning, governance development and more.

Additionally, the board will consider whether to officially declare a public need for the project. With this designation, the university would be able to launch a formal process under federal and state law for acquiring at fair market value the properties that are part of the vision for the Knight Campus.

Current plans for the Knight Campus place the $1 billion initiative, designed to transform research at the UO and to spur economic development in the region and state, on a 2.8-acre parcel on the north side of Franklin Boulevard across from the UO’s existing Lorry Lokey Science Complex. The UO owns most of the land needed for the project, but it must acquire two parcels from private parties to move forward.

“The process creates a framework for protecting the interests of landowners, lessees and other impacted parties,” said Kevin Reed, vice president and general counsel. “It also enables the university to move forward rapidly with this important project.”

Reed emphasized the university’s commitment to being a good partner with the community during this transformative process.

“We understand that this can be difficult and we are committed to working proactively with landowners and tenants to limit disruption to impacted businesses,” Reed said. “The success of the Knight Campus will require strong partnerships with the community and we want to be good neighbors. “

If approved, the board’s action does not automatically mean the university will file eminent domain litigation. In the coming weeks, the university will enlist the assistance of an appraiser to determine fair market value, which will be the starting point for negotiations.

These negotiations will include relocation assistance to ensure the ongoing business needs of the owners are also addressed. Work is already underway to accommodate tenants of UO Foundation-owned properties and provide relocation assistance.

By Tobin J. Klinger, University Communications