Saint Louis Zoo Association has agreed a conditional contract to purchase Medline’s 13.5 acre Forest Park hospital property in the city of St Louis. Whilst the price and terms have not been disclosed, it is thought that payment will come from Saint Louis Zoo’s own funds and not from taxpayers.
Medline, the biggest privately held manufacturer and supplier of health care supplies in America, have agreed to the sale and it is expected that the acquisition of the site could help maintain Saint Louis Zoo as one of the area’s most prominent tourist attractions.
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Saint Louis Zoo Association is a not-for-profit organisation whose board comprises businesses and community leaders who work closely with the Zoo to provide fundraising opportunities.
The conditions of the contract are thought to include the completion of “multiple due diligence audits” and a provision which allows Saint Louis Zoo to terminate the agreement at any time and for any reason. It is thought that due diligence will be completed within the next 120 days.
"The Zoo has always been a prudent steward of its resources and would not consider this purchase if it did not qualify as a financially wise move," said Jeffrey P. Bonner, Ph.D., Dana Brown President & CEO, Saint Louis Zoo.
"In the past few weeks, we have brainstormed dozens of ideas for this site. For example, it could help the Zoo further its mission of enhancing the visitor experience by increasing available parking, offering relief for traffic congestion and providing educational opportunities.”
“We think this property could also be the anchor that positions St. Louis as a life sciences leader not just for medical or plant sciences but for animal science and conservation. Some buildings on this site could possibly serve as office, conference and lab space for conservation initiatives.”
"By pursuing this approach, we could create high quality jobs in our region and enhance our community's position as a leader in plant and life sciences by bringing together our great science-focused businesses and institutions”
"Saint Louis Zoo a major engine for economic growth in our region."
"From what we have seen of this property, we firmly believe that this purchase would open up a great opportunity for the Zoo to grow and better serve the community and the preservation of wildlife.
“If we are successful in completing this acquisition, we will begin a careful planning process, involving a range of stakeholders, to determine how best to use the new property and to re-purpose buildings there for the long-term benefit of the Zoo, our mission to preserve animals, our visitors and neighbo[u]rs, the park and region."
The move was also welcomed by former St Louis mayor, the Honourable Jim Conway, who is also chairman of the Zoo Subdistrict Commission. "We are thrilled that the Zoo Association is pursuing this purchase," he said.
"The Saint Louis Zoo is not only a treasured institution but a major engine for economic growth in our region." He cited a recent study by the Regional Chamber and Growth Association showing that the Zoo provides as much as $187.5 million in direct and indirect economic benefits to the region annually.”
"In pursuing this opportunity at a very reasonable price, we would be building upon the nation's best zoo experience by ensuring greater accessibility to the Zoo and Forest Park," added Mary Campbell, president of the Saint Louis Zoo Association.
"This critical need was identified through a planning process involving more than 200 Zoo and community leaders and is part of the Strategic Plan adopted in 2007."
If all goes to plan, the transaction will close in late spring 2012 and plans would begin on the extensive planning which is necessary to decide on the land’s future use.
"In this planning process, we would involve local officials, our nearby Dogtown neighbo[u]rs and a range of other stakeholders to make the best possible use for this site," Dr. Bonner added.