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OSU-Cascades plans 4-year campus on Bend's Westside

By Matt McDonald
Published On: Dec 24 2013 05:53:43 AM CST
Updated On: Sep 14 2013 09:02:47 PM CDT

NewsChannel 21's Matt McDonald is live at the proposed future site for the four-year OSU-Cascades campus on Bend's Westside

BEND, Ore. -

Wendy Castillo, a single mom and senior business student at OSU-Cascades, said Friday she was “super-excited” to hear that the Bend branch campus has chosen its new home, a 56-acre parcel on the west side of town.

“I’m more excited for those freshmen and sophomores of 2015,” Castillo said.

The four-year branch campus choice, a closely guarded secret, was revealed Friday, with a price tag of nearly $13 million.

“We think this will give us a really great start to a four-year campus in the fall of 2015,” OSU-Cascades Vice President Becky Johnson told NewsChannel 21 during a visit to the site on Friday.

“It’s really very indicative of Central Oregon’s environment,” she said. “You’ve got the Ponderosa pines, the High Desert landscape.”

It’s not all pretty, though – 46 acres were part of a pumice mine – nor was the site the school’s first choice.

“A lot of things that we were hoping to be looking at, in terms of existing buildings, have just gotten out of our price range right now,” Johnson said.

The timeline to transform the land into a campus is aggressive: “We’re hoping to break ground in June or July of next year,” Johnson said.

First up is a living and learning center – part dorm, part classrooms.

“If you want to attract students from outside the region, parents want to know that their kids are going to have a safe place to live,” Johnson explained.

After the purchase, the university will have about $11 million left to develop the site, bordered by commercial land on three sides and already zoned for the university.

Despite the challenges ahead, students like Castillo have their eye on the future.

“Having that environment, that school environment – you know, the student community,” she said. “So I think that is one of the things that this new campus is going to bring.”

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The full announcement Friday morning from OSU-Cascades:

OSU-Cascades officials announced Friday they have chosen two adjoining parcels on Bend's Westside, totaling 56 acres and costing roughly $12 million, as the new home for the school's four-year branch campus.

School officials will propose the acquisition to the Finance and Administration Committee of the State Board of Higher Education at its Sept. 20 meeting

University officials are planning for a campus that will welcome freshmen and sophomores for the first time in fall 2015 and anticipate an enrollment of 3,000 to 5,000 students by 2025.

OSU-Cascades has operated within  a "2+2" model since it was founded in 2001, partnering with Central Oregon Community College for lower division courses, and providing upper-division and graduate courses leading to bachelor’s and master’s degrees. 

While the 2+2 model will continue, the State Board of Higher Education endorsed OSU-Cascades’ expansion to a four-year university in August of 2012 and the 2013 Oregon Legislature authorized initial funding for the expansion to a four-year branch campus of OSU.

The properties are located adjacent to each other and consist of a total of 56 acres.  They are located near the intersection of Southwest Century Drive and Chandler Avenues in Bend and are a half-mile from the Graduate & Research Center, 1.9 miles from downtown Bend, 1.3 miles from the Old Mill, and 2.8 miles from Central Oregon Community College.

One parcel is a 10-acre undeveloped site zoned for limited commercial use on Chandler Avenue. The seller is Cascades Property Holdings, LLC.  The second site, also located on Chandler, is 46 acres, part of which contains a pumice mine and the balance of which is zoned for residential use.  The seller is 4-R Equipment, LLC.

In spring 2012, Oregon State University President Ed Ray charged OSU-Cascades administrators with proposing a future campus site that would help meet Oregon’s education goals and enroll 3,000 to 5,000 students by 2025.

Selection of proposed sites for the campus was also informed through a space planning study and a survey of available Bend area real estate. The study considered the site’s appeal to prospective students, parents and faculty, as well as the sites’ ability to attract public-private partnerships that could support the region’s economic development.  Proximity to COCC was also a factor.

Becky Johnson, vice president of OSU-Cascades said other attributes were also considered important to the campus site selection.  She said the location of the properties -- near hiking and biking trails, athletic and medical facilities, and shopping areas -- allows the university to partner with local businesses while  focusing state resources on the construction of student learning, housing, dining and gathering facilities. 

Meanwhile, a nearby 11-acre property on Simpson Avenue owned by Bend Parks & Recreation District is in the master-planning phase and could provide additional recreation partnerships for the campus in the future.

Campus officials considered the City of Bend’s Juniper Ridge property north of the downtown area as a location site, but ruled it out because of the additional state investment required, lack of nearby amenities that a university campus would require, and the timeframe needed to create sewer, water and traffic infrastructure. 

The university will invest approximately half of its $24 million funding -- $16 million in general fund-backed bonds matched with an anticipated $4 million in philanthropic support and $4 million in campus supported bonds -- in the west Bend property transactions.  

The remaining funds will be used for site planning, improvements and construction.  

“These proposed real estate purchases are for the long term and represent the investment in university education that Central Oregonians have long sought for their region,” Johnson said.

“These purchases would not have been possible without the outpouring of philanthropic support from our community. It is an important catalyst for our expansion and we are grateful to our donors for the inspiration they have given to their community and the campus,” she added.  

Gov. John Kitzhaber included funding for the project in his capital construction budget for the 2013 to 2015 biennium.   With help from many state legislators, including the Central Oregon delegation – Sen. Tim Knopp, and Reps. Jason Conger, John Huffman, Mike McLane, and Gene Whisnant – the Legislature approved the funding in the closing days of this year's session.

“We are working closely with our partners at the city of Bend on a memorandum of understanding that will help outline the master planning process,” said Kelly Sparks, associate vice president for finance and strategic planning.  

“The first priority will be to provide the academic space needed for our undergraduate students, and to provide housing for our incoming freshman and sophomores.  We anticipate breaking ground in spring 2014,” Sparks said, adding that site planning documents will be submitted to the city in January.

Beginning in October, OSU-Cascades’ Campus Expansion Advisory Committee will assist the campus master planning process by providing feedback and advice to inform site planning. 

CEAC members, who have expertise on issues the campus will face as it expands, include community leaders and representatives from the City of Bend, Deschutes County and the Governor’s Regional Solutions Center.

Currently, OSU-Cascades’ administrative offices, undergraduate programs and faculty, are located in Cascades Hall on the COCC campus. 

Officials from both campuses are working together with local legislators to re-finance the bonding for Cascades Hall in an effort to enable OSU-Cascades to devote current lease payments to the four-year campus expansion, while enabling COCC to assume use of the building.

Meanwhile, graduate programs and faculty, and some administrative offices will remain at the Graduate & Research Center, located on Southwest Columbia Avenue.

Details on the parcels proposed for purchase:

1500 SW Chandler Avenue, Bend, OR 97702
Seller: Cascades Property Holdings, LLC
Acres: 10.44
Purchase Price: $4.98M
Price per Acre: $477,000
Closing Date: Anticipated closing on October 28, 2013
Description: 10.44-acre parcel of undeveloped wooded land comprised of one tax lot and situated southwest of downtown Bend. The property is zoned for Limited Commercial (CL) use and is generally level with an earthen mound present along the north and northwest property boundaries. The property has the availability of City water and sewer adequate for future development; gas, electric, telephone and cable serve the neighborhood. Site is in a visible location on major route leading to Mt. Bachelor and Cascades Lakes.

1707 SW Simpson Avenue and 1757 SW Simpson Avenue, Bend, OR 97702
Seller: 4-R Equipment, LLC
Acres: 46 acres
Purchase Price: $7.875M
Price per Acre: $177,000
Closing Date: Anticipated closing in March 2014
Description: The property is a 46.29-acre parcel comprised of four tax lots and situated southwest of downtown Bend. The property is zoned for Surface Mining (SM) and Residential use (RM). The property is currently used for pumice mining and is fully excavated. The property is a fully served site for water, storm sewer, natural gas, electric, telephone

About OSU-Cascades: Located in Bend, Ore., Oregon State University’s branch campus features outstanding faculty in degree programs that reflect Central Oregon’s vibrant economy and abundant natural resources. Eighteen undergraduate majors, 30 minors and options, and three graduate programs include computer science, energy systems engineering, exercise and sport science, hospitality management, and tourism and outdoor leadership. The branch campus plans to expand to a four-year university beginning fall 2015.

For more information: http://www.osucascades.edu/4

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