After months of university emails, debates, media coverage and waiting, students and faculty have an answer to who would be taking over parking rights if leased, and for how much.
Ohio State officials announced last week that QIC Global Infrastructure will be the bidder recommended to the Board of Trustees on June 22.
The Australia-based investment company placed a bid for $483M with a 5.5 percent annual cap for the first 10 years. The agreement would sign over university parking operations for 50 years.
The 5.5 percent cap would translate to a $40 increase in the current rate for an A permit, a $20 increase for a B permit, and a $14 increase for a C permit, according to an email from university provost Joseph Alutto.
The privatization of parking has been an issue opposed by some students and faculty.
Among them is Gordon Aubrecht, a physics professor at OSU-Marion. Aubrecht created an online petition to protest the deal. The petition had 2,761 signatures on June 8.
“Getting rid of the parking is a bad deal,” he said. “The whole thing is a bad idea.”
Aubrecht said he doesn’t think the university is getting enough return on the sale.
“They’re overestimating the return on this investment,” he said. “They’re making this assumption that they’re going to get 9 percent on this money, but in this economic climate, that’s a pipe dream.”
Geoff Chatas, the university’s chief financial officer. said that 9 percent has been the average return on university endowments over the past 30 years.
Some students disagree with the university’s decision to lease parking operations.
“If the university sells parking to a corporation, their only priority is going to be making money, students could be exploited,” said Logan Meinzer, a third-year in international studies and Russian.
Noelle Goehring, a second-year in English pre-education and communications, said she expected to see a more drastic price increase.
“It sounded a lot more dooms day than a 5.5 percent cap. It’d say that’s manageable,” she said.
However, Goehring said she is still apprehensive.
“An outside source might not have student’s best interest at heart.”
Chatas said that students shouldn’t be concerned about the parking privatization because it will generate money to fund student scholarships. In the first year, OSU will generate $3.5 million, which Chatas said is enough to fund 350 full-ride scholarships for instate students.
The agreement will be recommended to the Board on June 22. If passed, QIC will partner with LAZ Parking to take over operations including all permit sales, parking lots and parking garages over a 50-year period. According to a university release, they would handle more than 35,000 parking spaces on campus.
OSU Transportation and Parking employees will be given the opportunity to interview with LAZ, but Chatas said “If they don’t want to do that, we’ve committed to find them another similar job at Ohio State.”
LAZ currently handles parking assets at University of California, Berkeley, Brown University, Yale University, Boston College and the University of Miami in Florida, among others.
While several cities nationwide have sold parking rights to a private vendor, OSU would be the first public university to do so.