Aug. 31, 1998 Vol. III, No. 1

North Campus Biotech Project to Start During Fall Semester

Hundreds Including Mayor Riordan Attend July 30 Groundbreaking Ceremony

The first phase of a more than $80 million biotech park on Cal State Northridge's North Campus is slated to begin construction during the fall semester. That follows a summer groundbreaking ceremony that attracted Los Angeles Mayor Richard Riordan and several hundred guests.

The complex will be built and occupied by MiniMed Inc. and other companies headed by biotech pioneer Alfred Mann. The university will receive hundreds of thousands of dollars-a-year in ground lease revenue from the project as well as gain research, internship and other academic benefits.

"In addition to providing strong academic ties with several of our colleges, the biotech park will be a significant economic asset for the San Fernando Valley," said CSUN President Blenda J. Wilson.

Under the proposal, Mann initially will lease 19 acres of the North Campus, first erecting a two-story research/ development building and a 60,000-square-foot conference center, the latter to be shared with the campus. Ultimately, the project envisions 28 acres total and five buildings.

The July 30 groundbreaking ceremony gave Wilson, Riordan, Mann and others an opportunity to shovel some dirt on the future site of Mann's project. A group of teen-age girls who use an insulin pump developed by Mann also did a music and dance performance.

After the ceremony, CSUN Vice President for Administration and Finance Art Elbert, who conducted the university's negotiations with Mann, said the project's public-private partnership "can serve as a model for government agencies nationwide and for institutions of higher education."

Elbert added, "This project also will provide an outstanding opportunity for students to gain permanent high-paying jobs and the prospect of collaborative work between MiniMed and CSUN researchers."

Ultimately, Mann said he wants to move all of his now Sylmar-based companies to the CSUN site, seeking both larger facilities and the opportunity to keep well-paying biotech jobs within the city of Los Angeles. That facet of the project helped generate strong support from city officials.

"Today really marks a momentous occasion for MiniMed, Cal State Northridge and the city of Los Angeles," Mann said. "We're going to be moving our entire Sylmar operation here over the next several years."

One issue about the project-who would pay nearly $2.7 million in traffic and other mitigation measures required by the city-has been resolved, campus officials said. A nearly $1.5 million city grant and funding from Mann, offset by subsequent rent credits, should cover those obligations.

Under the proposal, Mann and his companies would lease the North Campus property for a 42-year initial term, with up to 40 additional years of options. As now planned, he would not lease the final 9-acre section, the portion that includes CSUN's current football field, until mid-2002.

-John Chandler

August 31, 1998

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