Cascades Hall in Bend unwanted by OSU-Cascades, COCC - The Daily Barometer: News

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Cascades Hall in Bend unwanted by OSU-Cascades, COCC

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Posted: Monday, February 10, 2014 11:39 pm | Updated: 12:05 am, Tue Feb 11, 2014.

Both Bend campuses work toward receiving funds from state for debt.

If debts with Central Oregon Community College remain unsettled, future students of Oregon State University’s Cascades program may have to remain in Cascades Hall for another 17 years. 

Looking to establish a four-year campus in Bend, OSU-Cascades currently operates out of Cascades Hall, a COCC property, as part of OSU’s extended campus program. Through the current partnership, students enroll their first two years at COCC and then have an option to obtain a bachelor’s or master’s through OSU.

OSU is currently 13 years into a 30-year lease on Cascades Hall. The debt on the lease is around $5.2 million, according to OSU-Cascades vice president Becky Johnson.

“We would obviously like to get out of that lease and move to our new campus so everyone would be in one place,” Johnson said.

Initially, COCC wanted to construct a new student success center and obtain an additional $5.5 million from the state to assist with the $11 million project. 

However, the community college could use Cascades Hall if OSU can pay off the remaining debt on its lease.

“This is what COCC is telling us,” Johnson said. “They need certainty.”

The state authorized the wrong kind of bonds last session, so the lease debt itself was unresolved.

Ron Paradis, director of college relations at COCC, said they could still move forward with their own plans if they get control of their building back.

“We would agree if OSU could pay off the debt,” Paradis said. “We would just take over Cascades Hall.”

OSU-Cascades and COCC are working to get assistance from the state. In the event that COCC receives $5.2 million from the state, they won’t have to put down additional funds to construct a new facility.

The only drawback, according to Paradis, is having a facility that doesn’t meet the community college’s specifications. As a 12-year-old classroom and office building, Cascades Hall doesn’t contain everything COCC wants in a newer building.

Paradis said COCC was fortunate enough to receive $7.5 million state dollars for a $22 million health careers building in 2009, and another $7.5 million for a $15 million technology advancement center on its Redmond campus in 2011.

Construction continues on the technology advancement center, which opens next fall.

If the state cannot help settle the Cascades Hall debt, Paradis said COCC will continue its plans to construct a newer student success center.

In addition to $10 million needed for campus accessibility improvements, OSU also wants an additional $3.9 million from the state to assist toward continuing expansion plans once the COCC lease settles.

According to Johnson, money from the state helped OSU purchase the 56 acres needed for the Bend campus.

“It allowed us to secure enough land for the whole 5,000-student vision we had,” Johnson said.

Had they not purchased the land, OSU-Cascades would have been at the whim of the real estate market in the future.

“We decided to strategically spend more of the money to secure the future of the campus,” Johnson said.

Christine Coffin, director of communications and outreach at OSU-Cascades, said the sale of a 10-acre property they purchased from Cascade Property Holdings, LLC. closed last week.

“We are going to move forward with a site plan for that location,” Coffin said.

Coffin said the 10-acre site would provide space for academic and residence buildings.

“All of our undergraduate students will move over to the 10-acre site,” Coffin said.

Public meetings will take place Feb. 27 and 28 to gain community feedback on further projects moving forward. OSU-Cascades will then focus on recruitment efforts for freshmen who will study and live on the site in fall 2015, according to Coffin.

OSU also announced Wednesday that more than $4.6 million in private donations was raised for the Cascades campus expansion.

Sean Bassinger

Higher education reporter

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