The campus of global software firm SAS in Cary will grow bigger in the future in a deal negotiated with North Carolina State University.

SAS will add more than 80 acres of land currently used by N.C. State for agricultural research under an “exchange” program through which a SAS subsidiary will acquire other properties that match or exceed the appraised $11.66 million value of the land.

SAS, however, has no immediate plans for use of the property.

While SAS continues to add employees and facilities at its 1,000-acre Cary campus, spokeswoman Desiree Adkins said the N.C. State deal represents a long-term investment. As of earlier this year, about 5,400 people worked in Cary, which serves as the global headquarters for the privately held $3 billion-a-year firm.

“At this time, SAS does not have specific plans for this property as it will continue to be used by N.C. State researchers for the next few years, but it will allow us to plan for future growth as needed,” Adkins said.

The Council of State approved the deal on Tuesday, but Adkins noted “no legal document transferring the property has happened.”

Under terms of the agreement, Reedy Creek Investments, the investment group of SAS co-founder and billionaire owner Jim Goodnight, an N.C. State alumnus, will acquire a number of buildings and properties on a shopping list selected by the university. Once Reedy Creek has acquired the “various parcels” that are “equal or greater value” of the 80 acres, the state will “convey” the land to SAS, according to language of the deal.

However, N.C. State will retain control of the land for another 10 years under a lease agreement. There is no cost for the lease.

Adkins noted that the agreement reflects the commitment of SAS to the state’s future as well as to Goodnight’s relationship with the university. Goodnight started SAS more than 30 years ago along with partner John Sall while teaching at N.C. State. SAS has worked with the university on various programs, including financial support for degree programs in analytics, which is the core of the SAS business.

NCSU sees multiple benefits

Ralph Recchie, director of real estate for N.C. State, hailed the deal, saying it meets several purposes, such as consolidating its agricultural research facilities in Wake County and acquire various buildings and properties that officials have identified as needed for further growth of the university.

N.C. State also can help put SAS “in a position for an opportunity to grow” even as real estate becomes more scarce and expensive as the region continues to grow.

The university and SAS have done similar swaps in the past, he said. Ten years ago, a similar agreement was made for more than 200 acres adjacent to SAS property, but it still remains in use by the university.

Had N.C. State simply sold the property, it would have received only 25 percent of the proceeds, Recchie said. Half would have gone to the state pension fund, with the remaining 25 percent going to the general fund. Through the exchange, which is allowed by law and has been approved by the University of North Carolina Board of Governors and the Council of State, the school gets equal value for its land.

According to the agreement, N.C. State already has identified one property it wants: A 1.34-acre site in Morehead City that includes a 13-apartment building.

The building’s cost is $600,000, and Reedy Creek will invest another $400,000 in upgrades.

N.C. State wants the building since it is within walking distance of the Center for Marine Science and Technology. Apartments will be used for students and visiting faculty, according to the agreement. The UNC Institute for Marine Studies also is nearby, the agreement notes.

Recchie said he already has other properties in mind for acquisition, but he is not ready to disclose specifics given that prices must still be negotiated.