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HDL center to finalize move

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The HDL Center on Union Street just on the edge of campus will be filled with new offices in the next six months. In order to make room for the new university functions in the office building, the current tenants will be forced out, and that decision is coming “within the next week,” Ann Trout, Athens Clerk of Courts, said.

The lessees were informed of the termination on Dec. 28 of 2012. The lease for the county title office had been rearranged at least once already this year.

“[The university] has already given us one extension,” Trout said. “They have been very generous.”

Current offices within the former HDL Center include the People’s Bank, Wells Fargo Advisors Financial Network, the Ohio Lottery Commission, the title office, the deputy registrar license agency and the driver’s exam station. All of these stations will be relocated elsewhere.

Trout says that the only county-controlled office, the title office, will be moved down to the Market on E. State St.

“I’m looking forward to the move,” she said. “There’s no parking at the current location and the air conditioning was always malfunctioning.”

The office’s lease has already been extended through mid January, Trout said, and the university is expected to make a final decision this week.

“However, we expect to be out of the office by that time already,” Trout said.

The university has owned the HDL Center since July 2008, and had been renting it beforehand from Harold D. Laughlin and HDL Center Ltd. for more than ten years before that. The center was purchased for $9.25 million, according to an OU memo in 2008. The decision to end the leases was decided in December of 2012, in a meeting amongst OU officials. The notion became cemented, however, in a November meeting of OU Trustees in an effort to remove administrative positions and offices to an outer edge of campus and allow academic uses to remain within the core of the campus. Officials decided at the time of the November meeting to lead a vote on the center to eject current tenants to make way for the administrative offices to take their place.

At the time the planned evictions were announced, the university did not hesitate to inform current tenants they would have plenty of time to leave the structure. Several agencies began looking almost immediately after the announcement.

Several citizens questioned the university’s decision to oust tenants, wondering if maintenance costs could be covered with no incoming rent. Nicolette Dioguardi, associate director of OU Legal Affairs, said in a letter to the Athens News, “The decision to remove all non-university uses from the facility included consideration of not just financial concerns, but of academic needs from other buildings, [as well as] overall space use by academic and administrative units that directly serve the university’s overall mission.” She went on to say that the building had never been a planned commercial commodity, as it had mixed uses from the day the university purchased it.

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