A new chapter began at UC Merced on June 1 with the completion of the massive $1.2 billion Merced 2020 Project, an extensive expansion of the campus’ physical space and capacity.
The project is the largest public-private partnership social infrastructure project completed in U.S. history and will enable the UC’s newest and fastest-growing campus to accommodate up to 10,000 students.
The new facilities include student housing, classrooms, teaching and research space, student wellness and counseling facilities and recreational spaces. Delivery occurred in three phases beginning in mid-July 2018, with the second phase finished in mid-2019.
“This on-time, on-budget completion of the 2020 Project shows that incredible things can happen when all stakeholders work together with a true spirit of partnership,” said Dale Bonner, executive chairman of Plenary Concessions.
Public-private partnerships are collaborations between a government entity and private-sector companies and are used to finance, build and operate projects. They allow projects to be completed more quickly.
The project’s on-time completion significantly improved UC Merced’s response to the novel coronavirus pandemic. The additional space better allows the university to comply with social distancing requirements for those students who find campus to be their safest option.
The P3 development team, which banded together under the banner of Plenary Properties Merced, was led by developer and equity provider Plenary Group in partnership with Webcor, lead campus planner Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP and Johnson Controls Inc., which led operations and maintenance.
The project team locally sourced workers and ensured the community benefited from the UC’s investment in Merced. In addition to purchasing locally, project leaders staffed 82 percent of the field labor with local San Joaquin Valley residents. Hundreds of apprentices, who worked a total of nearly 800,000 hours, gained training and experience that will serve as the foundation of future lucrative, successful careers in the construction industry.
Team members were also actively engaged in local volunteer opportunities, from fundraisers and parades to building sets for a local high school play.
The myriad obstacles the P3 team overcame made the project’s on-time and on-budget completion particularly noteworthy.
“This team persevered through floods, wildfires and a pandemic. They respected their client and the community. They never lost sight of their obligation to deliver this project on time and on budget,” said Webcor Chief Operations Officer Matt Rossie. “We all believed in the purpose of the project: building an institution of higher learning that would benefit the residents of the Central Valley and further the futures of young people.”
The UC Merced 2020 project has been recognized with a number of awards, including the 2017 Infrastructure Journal Global Award, a 2016 P3 Award, a Public Sector Champion Award from the Performance-Based Building Coalition and a 2017 award for P3 Social Infrastructure Project of the Year.