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Campus Purchasing Land in Downtown Merced for 2020 Project

June 30, 2014

UC Merced is the top bidder for a piece of publicly auctioned land in downtown Merced that will likely serve as the site of a building for staff members, a significant step forward in the campus’s 2020 Project, designed to accelerate campus growth.

The campus is also working with the City of Merced to lease office space in the Parcade Building at 18th and M streets that would serve as a hub for technology transfer and entrepreneurialism.

“These developments represent a significant campus commitment to downtown Merced. We believe in its growth, vitality and its future role in the development of the campus,” Chancellor Dorothy Leland said. “The new administrative building and technology hub expand our connection with the community and will be an economic driver for the area as the campus moves toward having 10,000 students by 2020.”

The .85-acre parcel is a vacant lot at 18th and N streets, across from the Merced Civic Center. UC Merced will pay $630,000 for the land, barring any issues with escrow. The auction, in the U.S. Eastern District of California Bankruptcy Court, closed Friday and the purchase should close later in the summer. Planning for the location would begin thereafter.

Research is the cornerstone of the University of California. At UC Merced, innovative faculty members and students conduct cross-disciplinary research that will solve complex problems affecting the region, California and beyond. The Parcade Building would provide a significant presence for commercializing research in downtown Merced as the campus expands its research portfolio.

UC Merced has eight patents and has submitted more than 30 patent applications for review. Additionally, UC Merced programs like Innovate to Grow pair student teams with local businesses to solve problems by developing real engineering solutions.

“Having a presence downtown will lead to more collaboration with local and regional industry and provide much-needed space for the campus’s budding entrepreneurs to hone their ideas,” Vice Chancellor for Research and Economic Development Sam Traina said.

Both the land and potential lease mark meaningful progress in the 2020 Project, which will provide significant amounts of new space for teaching and research, housing, athletics and support space for UC Merced. The ultimate result will be a vibrant, collaborative and sustainable campus and downtown presence for students, faculty and staff by 2020.

“It is fantastic news that UC Merced has prevailed with its bid to acquire the land across from City Hall,” Merced Mayor Stan Thurston said. “We very much appreciate the commitment UC Merced is continuing to make in our downtown area.”

In 2013, an expert panel with the Urban Land Institute offered a strong recommendation for UC Merced to locate a significant number of staff members at a central location — potentially in downtown Merced — to increase efficiency and teamwork and strengthen the campus’s presence within the city. The off-campus location would be for staff members who generally don’t work directly with students or faculty members on a day-to-day basis. UC Merced already leases space at several locations in Merced and Atwater.

The UC Board of Regents endorsed this strategy during discussion of the UC Merced 2020 Project in March and May 2013.