The California State University system has developed 22 campuses and six satellite centers, but none of those efforts is similar to CSU's project in Ventura County. The CSU is adaptively reusing the closed state hospital at Camarillo for the system's 23rd campus — CSU Channel Islands. To fund much of the project, CSU is developing 900 housing units, a commercial district and a 350,000-square-foot research and development park. The project is being overseen by a unique seven-member site authority described as a cross between a base reuse agency and a redevelopment agency with the ability issue debt and collect tax increment. The campus, which already serves about 1,800 students as a satellite for CSU Northridge, is scheduled to open as a new university in fall of 2002. The CSUCI master plan calls for 11,750 students and 1,500 staff members and faculty at full build-out in 2025. The campus will draw students primarily from a population of about 1.3 million people in Ventura, southern Santa Barbara and western Los Angeles counties, according to the CSU planners. The process of developing the first public university in Ventura County has not been quick or easy. During the 1980s, the CSU chancellor's office chose pasture land on the edge of Ventura for a new campus. However, slow-growth sentiment in Ventura killed the project. In 1995, CSU purchased 260 acres of lemon orchards between Camarillo and Oxnard for development of a campus. The following year, however, the idea of reusing the California State Developmental Hospital at Camarillo, which closed in 1997, was broached. Then-Gov. Wilson appointed a task force to study feasibility of the proposal, and planning soon shifted to the former psychiatric hospital (see CP&DR, June 1997). Because of state financial uncertainties, CSU officials insisted on a new approach that turned the state into a developer. Even though the state budget outlook has improved in recent years (at least until the electricity mess hit), officials have continued to emphasize the need to build houses, retail space and a business park to raise money for campus construction. The three-year-old master plan calls for gradually refurbishing most of the 1.6 million-square-foot state hospital for use as classrooms, offices and other educational facilities. Nearby would be 900 units of housing in the "East Campus" in the form of single-family homes, townhouses and apartments — all of which are aimed at future faculty and staff members. Between the residential development and the campus proper would lie a pedestrian-oriented retail cluster, with stores and professional offices at ground level and apartments above. On the opposite side of the campus would be a research and development park. Also planned are a K-8 school and a golf course. A senior citizen home and housing for military personnel stationed at nearby Port Hueneme and Point Mugu are also possibilities. "We are creating, in essence, a community here — more than just a university campus," said George Dutra, CSUCI associate vice president for facilities, development and operations. "Part of the reason is to make money. Part of the reason is to provide housing. Third is we're trying to reduce the need for automobiles." The need for money is clear. Although the state has allocated about $10 million for early phases of campus development — and CSU officials are counting on receiving more state money soon — further refurbishment of the hospital and construction of new buildings is largely dependent on the state's role as private developer. University officials say the housing and commercial development should start generating revenue for CSU in about three years. Providing reasonably priced housing is essential for attracting and retaining instructors, CSU officials say. "In Ventura County, as in many areas, faculty and staff salaries — especially for people coming from outside the area — are not adequate for housing and rent," Dutra said. This problem confronts universities across the state, said David Rosso, senior policy analyst at the CSU chancellor's office. Ventura County has a limited amount of affordable housing and a minimal amount of new units being constructed, he said. The university will be able to offer the 900 East Campus units at less than market rate because it owns the land (CSU is leasing land to developer Brookfield Homes) and because the units will come with appreciation restrictions, Rosso explained. Tax-free bonds issued by the CSU Channel Islands Site Authority, a Mello-Roos bond issue, and some conventional loans are funding the residential development. Traffic has been a major issue since the state first began considering the 640-acre site. The site is in the midst of farmland at the base of the Santa Monica Mountains, about three miles south of Camarillo. A two-lane road provides the only access, and both Camarillo and Oxnard, about seven miles northwest of the campus, already have major traffic concerns of their own. The academic campus is planned to be very compact — a five-minute walk will get a person just about anywhere. The East Campus housing will have good pedestrian access, with the first phase of homes only a few minutes' walk from the campus, Dutra said. The inclusion of retail shops, restaurants and services helps ensure that employees and the 1,000 students who eventually live on campus will have few reasons to drive elsewhere, he said. Moreover, planners designed the campus with few parking spaces. Instead of driving to the site, students and employees who live off-campus will ride shuttle busses from Metro train stations in Camarillo and Oxnard. This system is already in place for students attending the CSU Northridge satellite now at the campus. Furthermore, the CSUCI student body card will also function as a "smart card," providing free access to all county transit systems. Despite the downplaying of automobiles, extensive road improvements are underway. A collection of city, county, Caltrans and CSUCI representatives meet quarterly to coordinate a variety of projects intended to serve the new campus. About $66 million in capital improvements, mostly funded by the State Transportation Improvement Plan, are planned, said Carlos Hernandez, STIP Project Manager for Ventura County Transportation Commission. Caltrans is building a new interchange at Highway 101 and Lewis Road in Camarillo, the county is widening two-lane Lewis Road to four lanes, and the county is expanding the Metro rail station in Camarillo. The CSUN students are now attending classes in about 100,000 square feet of renovated space in the former hospital's bell tower building, the first to be completely refurbished. The university now is renovating what was the actual hospital building for administrative office space. Next spring, the school will break ground on a new science building, Dutra said. The following year, construction is scheduled to commence on a $42 million, 125,000-square-foot library designed by renowned English architect Norman Foster, who designed the new German Parliament building in Berlin, Stanford Medical School's Center for Clinic Sciences and Research building, and numerous structures in Hong Kong and Singapore. Some people have questioned Foster's neo-modern, glass and steel building, which will actually slide inside an existing Spanish-style structure. Dutra conceded that the design does not match the former hospital's very consistent Spanish theme. But, Dutra added, "you can't really use that building as a library without making some significant changes to it." Without those changes, the existing building lacks space for large reading areas and a lobby, and also cannot structurally support library stacks, he said. In September, the Legislature passed SB 323 (O'Connell), which allows CSU to swap 117 acres of the lemon orchard site for 75 acres adjacent to the current site. The additional land would allow construction of a new primary access road and provide space for athletic fields. The Channel Islands campus is not CSU's first attempt at reuse. The university's Monterey Bay campus is at the former Fort Ord Army base. However, the former state hospital provides planners more with which to work than did Fort Ord. Designed by the state architect and built by the WPA, the former hospital already boasts a great deal of character. The buildings remain in good shape, although reuse requires gutting them because of modern wiring and other needs, Dutra said. "Basically, we'll be working with a shell," he said. "We are very lucky. This is a great facility to work with. It's laid out like a campus," Dutra said. Whether other campuses will mimic CSUCI's public-private approach is unknown, said Rosso, of the chancellor's office. The process is new to the university and has had its bumps, including Catellus Development's decision to back out as master planner and developer during a corporate reshuffling. Still, the project is on schedule, and CSU Channel Islands expects to welcome its first students in less than one year. Contacts: George Dutra, CSU Channel Islands, (805) 437-8422. David Rosso, CSU Chancellor's office, (562) 951-4120. Carlos Hernandez, Ventura County Transportation Commission, (805) 642-1591. CSUCI website: CSU website: