Plenary wins UC Merced campus project

A group led by the Australian infrastructure developer has been awarded the $1.14bn project that will nearly double the capacity of University of California, Merced’s campus by 2020.

Plenary Group and its consortium partners have beat two other shortlisted teams for a campus development project at University California, Merced.

Described as “an unprecedented four-year project” by UC Merced, in a statement announcing the selection of the preferred bidder, it will nearly double the physical capacity of the campus, allowing it to grow to 10,000 students from 6,700 currently.

“We are impressed by the creativity, efficiency and aesthetic qualities evident throughout the winning proposal,” the university’s chancellor, Dorothy Leland, said. “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.”

The announcement comes six months after the UC Board of Regents approved the university’s proposal to procure the project as a P3, finding it to be “in the best interests of the university.”

Last November, the board approved a $1.14 billion budget for the project, which will be financed with up to $600 million in revenue bonds, which the Board of Regents is scheduled to approve next month, and $157 million in UC Merced funds.

Plenary Group, the lead developer, equity provider and financial arranger for the project, will contribute $386 million in funding.

The mixed-use project will be built on a 219-acre, university-owned site that is adjacent to the existing campus. The proposal is based on a detailed analysis and recommendations provided by the Urban Land Institute in January 2013.

Groundbreaking could begin as early as September, UC Merced said, with the first phase of buildings scheduled to be delivered in 2018, and the remainder delivered in 2020.

“The project will be the first in the UC system to use a single private development team for a multi-year, multi-building project of this scope,” the university said in its statement. “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.”

San Francisco-based Webcor Builders is the lead contractor, while Johnson Controls will provide the operation, maintenance and renewal services.