UCLA Acquires Oxy’s Former Westwood HomeMonday, October 26, 2015, LA Business Journal
UCLA has purchased the former headquarters of Occidental Petroleum Corp., which relocated to Houston last year, for $92.5 million.The university’s deal for the Occidental Petroleum Building, at 10899 Wilshire Blvd. in Westwood Village, closed Friday. The purchase price was covered by the proceeds of a 2012 bond offering. The transaction includes the 16-story office tower, an adjacent building housing the Hammer Museum and a 634-space underground parking garage. The complex occupies a full city block bounded by Wilshire Boulevard, Westwood Boulevard, Lindbrook Drive and Glendon Avenue. Phil Hampton, director of UCLA Media Relations, said a plan for occupancy is still being developed and declined to comment on the specific uses the university plans for the 161,000 square feet it will occupy on floors six through 16 of the 311,000-square-foot office building.When Occidental vacated the building it was generally assumed that the Hammer, which had an option to purchase the building for $55 million at the end of its 30-year, rent-free lease in 2021, would buy the property. But the Hammer decided not to exercise its option, and Occidental listed the complex for sale earlier this year. Museum representatives did not immediately respond to requests for comment about why the museum didn’t buy the building. The museum, founded by former Occidental Chairman Armand Hammer, who died several weeks after it opened, will continue to occupy the museum building and will expand into the first five floors of the office tower. UCLA has struck a 99-year lease with the Hammer that will allow the museum to stay in its exhibit space and use the office space rent-free. The school and the museum have been closely linked since they struck an agreement allowing UCLA to manage the institution in 1994. The next year, UCLA relocated the collections and the staff of the Wight Art Gallery and the Grunwald Center for the Graphic Arts to the Hammer. Last year, it was rumored that the arts institution was working closely with UCLA to come up with the money to buy the Oxy building at an earlier date. The school said it made the move to purchase the complex because it will reduce office leasing expenses. “This is an important strategic acquisition for UCLA, said Steven Olsen, UCLA’s vice chancellor and chief financial officer said in a statement. “Owning rather than leasing office buildings results in major cost savings over the long term and allows us to more efficiently manage the use of space on campus.” UCLA leases about 300,000 square feet of space in Westwood, much of it office space, and the purchase will presumably consolidate much of that space.
The article is based on the official media release, but the release doesn't mention the $55 million option. See: http://newsroom.ucla.edu/releases/ucla-acquires-occidental-petroleum-building-to-reduce-leasing-expenses
There are some unexplained puzzles in this article, mainly the gap between the $55 million option (albeit 6 years in the future) that the Hammer Museum, which UCLA "manages," had, and the purchase price (now) of $92 million. Not clear why something couldn't have been structured for UCLA to buy via Hammer. We're not saying it wasn't a good deal (or that it was). We're just saying the article doesn't provide an explanation and suggests the purchase at the higher price wasn't what was "generally assumed." And the release doesn't even hint that there is anything to be explained about the Hammer option.
After all we had the Hammer (sort of):