The University of Oregon has finalized its purchase of the former Concordia University campus in Northeast Portland, or as the Ducks will soon know it: UO Portland.
Money to buy the campus came from a more than $425 million donation from former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer and his wife Connie, a former UO alumna and trustee.
The UO Portland campus will notably house the new Ballmer Institute for Children’s Behavioral Health. According to UO, the institute is creating a new bachelor’s degree focused on behavioral health, pending approval from the state. The university institute expects to hire roughly 20 new faculty members and plans to partner with K-12 schools statewide, starting with Portland Public Schools. Before closing in 2020, Concordia’s education program had a partnership with PPS centered at Faubion K-8, which is located right next to the 19-acre campus.
Along with The Ballmer Institute, UO plans to move some of its current Portland programs to the new campus.
“The purchase of our new campus, UO Portland, is one of the most important developments in the long and storied history of the University of Oregon,” UO President Michael Schill said in a statement on Tuesday. “In addition to housing The Ballmer Institute for Children’s Behavioral Health, we anticipate UO Portland to house many other partnerships with local institutions and the community which will educate and improve the lives of young people in the city of Portland, our state and our nation.”
Back in March, UO’s Board of Trustees approved a $60.5 million purchase agreement for the Portland property. According to the university, the final purchase price for the property was slightly under that — $60,350,000.
The former private Concordia University, affiliated with the Lutheran Church, has a more than 100-year history in Northeast Portland, located in a neighborhood named after it.
The University of Oregon purchased the property from the Lutheran Church Extension Fund, or LCEF, a nonprofit financial institution that supports the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod and affiliated organizations through loans and other financial assistance. The LCEF is currently wrapped up in an ongoing more than $300 million lawsuit with the technology company HotChalk, which worked with Concordia on the school’s online courses. HotChalk is also suing Concordia Portland itself and others, including individual members of Concordia Portland’s Board of Regents.
The UO Board of Trustees had noted that it was not worried about LCEF’s inclusion in that ongoing lawsuit affecting the sale of the property at all.
Jim McDermott, a lawyer representing HotChalk said he had no comment on the finalization of the sale.
Matt Messier with Foundry, a commercial real estate firm representing LCEF, said in a statement that the Extension Fund was “intentional in finding a buyer for this property that would serve in the best interests not only of the immediate surrounding community but of children and families that will be impacted by the positive outcomes that will come out of the Ballmer Institute for Children’s Behavioral Health for decades to come.”
Peter Keller, chair of the Concordia Neighborhood Association, called UO’s purchase of the property a “boon” to the neighborhood and all of Portland.
“We’re excited to hear that UO finalized their purchase of [Concordia University],” Keller told OPB. “The leadership of UO Portland has been great to work with keeping the Concordia Neighborhood Association informed through every step.”
Keller said the neighborhood association is looking forward to partnering with the university on a “good neighbor agreement.”
The University of Oregon says it is aiming to welcome students to the UO Portland campus in the fall of 2023.
Editor’s note: This story has been updated to include the purchase price, which was not available when this story originally published.