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UC Merced to double campus size by 2020
UC Merced Expansion
UC Merceds latest expansion project is expected to be completed by 2020 and will provide significant amounts of new teaching and research facilities, housing, athletics and support space for the university. - photo by Photo Contributed

The University of California, Merced, has announced plans for its next major phase of campus development. The four-year construction project will nearly double the physical capacity of the campus by 2020, allowing it to grow to 10,000 students while also providing a large number of area jobs.

The university named Plenary Properties Merced the winning bidder for the expansion, making the project the first in the UC system to use a single private development team for a multi-year, multi-building project.

“We are impressed by the creativity, efficiency and aesthetic qualities evident throughout the winning proposal,” said UC Merced Chancellor Dorothy Leland. “Plenary Properties Merced has produced a compact, environmentally sensitive design that blends beautifully with our existing campus, facilitates our multi-disciplinary teaching and research methods, and provides flexibility for future changes in building usage. Most important, it’s a cost-effective way of building out our campus.”

The new facilities will be built within a 219-acre site that currently supports the existing campus and its 6,700 students. The first phase of buildings is scheduled for delivery in 2018 with the remainder completed in 2020, though groundbreaking could begin as early as September of this year.

 The expansion project will provide new teaching and research facilities, housing, athletics and support space for the university. Along with sports recreation fields, a competition pool will also be added. Mixed-use buildings will feature classrooms and meeting spaces on the ground floors, with 1,700 student beds on the upper levels. The project also includes a new, multipurpose Central Dining facility and an additional 1,500 parking spaces.

PPM will not only design and build all of the new facilities as a single, fast-track project but will also ensure major building systems operate effectively over the 39-year term of the contract. In addition, the developer will be responsible for raising all required private financing as part of the public-private partnership.

“UC Merced, the youngest campus in our system, is poised to become a model for our other campuses as we look for the most efficient ways to construct, operate and maintain facilities that enable us to pursue our teaching, research and public service missions,” said UC President Janet Napolitano. “As the first public research university to be created in the 21st century, UC Merced is prepared to build on its remarkable academic achievements as the campus itself is built out to accommodate future growth.”

In keeping with UC Merced’s strong emphasis on interdisciplinary learning and research, PPM’s design themes make creative use of environments and buildings that are designed for multiple purposes, generating dynamic, interdisciplinary interaction among students, faculty and staff. To accommodate changing needs over time, the design and construction approaches are flexible and highly adaptable, helping the campus achieve long-term life-cycle and sustainability goals.

The project is expected to create more than 10,000 construction jobs in the San Joaquin Valley (more than 12,000 statewide) during the four-year construction period. The one-time economic benefit to the region will be an estimated $1.9 billion ($2.4 billion statewide).

The campus expects to add faculty and student support services by 2020 to accommodate enrollment growth.

Leland said the university’s expansion will significantly strengthen its capacity to achieve its critical mission as the first UC campus in the San Joaquin Valley – increasing college-going rates within the region’s highly diverse, largely underserved population while serving as a powerful engine of economic development. The campus has already pumped more than $1.3 billion into the regional economy ($2.5 billion statewide) since start-up operations began in 1999.

The UC Board of Regents will be asked in July to review and approve the project’s conceptual design and to approve the required external financing, clearing the way for completion and execution of the formal contract in August. The regents previously approved the $1.14 billion budget, commercial terms and all major elements of the delivery model last November.