This week, the Regents of the University of California and the University of California, Merced are celebrating the one-year anniversary of groundbreaking for the $1.3 billion, 1.2 million GSF UC Merced 2020 Project (the “Project”).

The Project involves the design, construction, financing, operation, and maintenance of a broad mix of academic, residential, student life, and recreational facilities at the University of California’s Merced campus, including the simultaneous construction of 13 new buildings, and is expected to nearly double the physical capacity of the campus. As the first higher education project in the United States to be undertaken using the P3 availability payment model, the successful completion of the first year of construction marks an important milestone for the Project and for the U.S. social infrastructure P3 market more generally.

First buildings complete by fall 2018

The first year of construction has proceeded smoothly, with the first phase of the Project expected to be delivered on schedule in fall 2018. Included in the first delivery are 700 new student beds, a 600-seat multipurpose dining facility, new classrooms, and 940 new parking spaces. Developed by Plenary Properties Merced, the construction team, led by Webcor Construction LP, has begun assembling the steel components of the new dining facility’s distinctive sloped roof, and is working on a second bridge connecting the campus expansion to the existing campus. The team has also begun work on the campus’ tallest building to date, a six-story mixed-used student residential facility in the heart of the campus.

Governance structure is critical component

According to the University, what has been instrumental in the Project’s progress is the campus’ internal governing structure to manage the Project. “We worked very hard to establish a comprehensive governance structure that taps into expertise across the University,” said University spokesperson Richard Cummings. “It is enabling us to monitor the University’s obligations under the Agreement and to timely respond to questions that have arisen during the construction process.”

In addition, a campus-led Project management team is closely monitoring progress on a daily basis. The team is comprised of campus staff in construction and space planning, and is advised by consulting subject matter experts housed together on the construction site.

Economic benefits

The Project is generating significant economic benefits in Merced and surrounding regions. Approximately 400 construction workers are on site in Merced each day, and the Project is anticipated to create 2,500 construction jobs annually in the San Joaquin Valley during the four-year construction period. Based on a third-party analysis by Oakland-based Economic & Planning Systems, development of the Project is estimated to inject $1.9 billion into the economy of Merced County and $2.4 billion statewide. By 2022, it is anticipated that ongoing operations of the Project will increase spending by more than $200 million per year in the state.

“UC Merced is a big partner in our economy with its 2020 Project,” said Merced City Manager Steve Carrigan in a quote to the Merced-Sun Star. “That is a lot of construction jobs in four years and a lot more jobs for faculty and staff.”

Looking ahead

The Project is scheduled to be delivered in three phases and will enable the campus to expand enrollment to 10,000 students. The first set of deliveries occurs in the fall of 2018; the second set of deliveries in the fall of 2019; and the remainder of the Project in 2020. Every building will achieve at least LEED Gold certification. Following overall substantial completion of the Project, the developer’s lead facilities management firm, Johnson Controls, Inc., will operate and maintain the assets to contractually specified standards for the remainder of the 39-year contract term.

Click here for more information about the UC Merced 2020 Project.

A special thank you to Richard Cummings, Director of Strategic Communications at UC Merced, for his valuable contributions to this post.