CHICAGO — Ohio State University on Friday is expected to tap a private investor that has offered $483 million in cash to take over the school’s parking system for 50 years in a deal that would make OSU the first public university to privatize such an asset.
The school will hold a series of public meetings this week and on Friday will announce the winning bidder, chosen from a short list of three respondents whittled down from 10 teams that responded to the request for proposals last year. The Board of Trustees will vote on the selected bidder June 22.
All three bids came in well over the university’s original estimate that a 50-year lease of the 36,000-space system would generate a $375 million offer.
The top bidder is a two-firm team consisting of Australia-based infrastructure and investment firm QIC Private Capital and LAZ Parking, which operates Chicago’s privatized parking meter system.
The team offered $483 million in cash to operate the system for 50 years with a 5.5% cap on parking rate increases for the first 10 years and 4% for the remaining 50 years. The second bidder, led by Macquarie Capital & Central Parking, offered $417 million with the 5.5% cap. The third bidder, Industry Funds Management & Parking Solutions, offered $390 million.
The bidders submitted alternative offers for larger rate increases. QIC offered $509 million for a deal that allowed it to increase rates by 6.5% the first 10 years and $523 million for a 7.5% increase cap.
Macquarie offered $451 million with a 6.5% cap and $476 million with a 7.5%. IFM offered $421 million with a 6.5% increase cap and $454 million with a 7.5% increase cap. The 4% cap after 10 years would remain for all three scenarios.
“The lead bid is based on the price and the fact that the price comes with a parking cap at 5.5%, which is the best guarantee for low parking rates,” said OSU spokeswoman Shelly Hoffman.
In touting the deal, Ohio State officials projected that a $483 million investment would generate more than $4 billion by 2033, assuming 9% growth, which is the rate the school’s existing endowment has grown over the past 30 years. OSU would put $3.1 billion toward academic programs and use $871 million for transportation expenses.
The parking system currently generates $30 million annually. As part of the deal, the university would defease $80 million of outstanding bonds backed by parking payments. Morgan Stanley, Jones Day and Desman Associates, a parking consulting firm, are advising the university on the proposal.
In related news, Indiana University is also eyeing privatization as a way to raise new money. “We are in the very early stages of looking at privatization in general to see if the issue might make sense,” said spokesman Mark Land. He said the OSU deal has prompted officials to take a look at their own parking system.