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$18.45M Bid Placed on Westmoreland

According to a May 24 UO press release, Michael R. O’Connell Sr. of Eugene has placed a $18.45 million bid on Westmoreland. Incoming ASUO President Jared Axelrod and a number of other student officials first learned of the bid only a few hours ago.

The timing is suspicious, to say the least. This bid comes on the last day of this year’s ASUO and the second to last meeting of the University Senate. In previous interviews, both Axelrod and current ASUO President Adam Walsh had mentioned the likelihood of a Westmoreland bid coming when University governance was in such a transitionary phase. In a hurriedly created motion, the University Senate voted 15-14 (with President Peter Keyes casting the tie-breaker) to send someone to the OUS Board to voice opposition to the sale.

So what does the future hold for Westmoreland if the OUS State Board approves O’Connell’s bid? For the next academic year current tenants will be allowed to remain, albeit under the management of noted slumlord management company Bell Real Estate. The University has guaranteed that it “will provide financial assistance to eligible current residents who wish to remain” until June 2007 if rent costs increase. After June 2007, O’Conner will be free to do whatever he wishes with the property.

One question remains: if the current Westmoreland situation is financial untenable, then why does O’Connell plan “to operate close to the status quo?” If Westmoreland remains managed in a similar fashion as it was under the University, then hasn’t O’Connell made a terrible investment?

  1. Timothy says:

    If he takes a hit now, he can tear it the hell down in a year. My guess is he’d fire a lot of the staff, raise the rent, and then do something else with it in a year.

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