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Santa Clarita / Antelope Valley : College District Negotiates With Businessman for Land

September 29, 1993|JOHN CHANDLER | TIMES STAFF WRITER

LANCASTER — The Antelope Valley's college district in Lancaster has announced a tentative agreement for a Laguna Beach businessman to donate an approximate 100-acre site east of Palmdale for a future second campus to serve the southern Antelope Valley.

David P. Bushnell, founder of a binocular company that bore his name, is willing to donate the unincorporated county area at the southwest corner of 47th Street East and Barrel Springs Road as part of a plan to develop an adjoining 500 acres with up to 1,000 houses. The donation would hinge on the city of Palmdale annexing the land and approving the development.

Officials of the Antelope Valley Community College District announced the proposal at the district's Monday night board of trustees meeting, calling it potentially the largest donation in the college's history. The district currently operates only a 125-acre campus, Antelope Valley College, with about 9,700 students in northwest Lancaster.

"This is one of those real monumental things for the college," said Allan Kurki, the college district's superintendent for the past seven years. "As far as I'm concerned, this is the most exciting meeting I've had since I've been here," Kurki said Monday night.

The college district's board of trustees voted 4 to 0 to authorize continued negotiations with Bushnell and Palmdale on an agreement for the donation, and to submit a letter of intent for the site to the state Office of Community Colleges and the California Postsecondary Education Commission.

If the deal is finalized, college officials predicted they could open 50,000 to 60,000 square feet of facilities for several thousand students by 1998-99, and then gradually expand the campus to about 300,000 square feet of facilities and 10,000 students after about 20 years.

Under the proposal, the college would get the property at no cost, although college officials estimated off-site improvements would cost about $3.1 million. The development of the college site would depend on whether state voters pass future college construction bond measures.

Michael Maas, a Riverside-based consultant specializing in donations who was hired by the college, said he spotted the Bushnell property during a flyover of the Antelope Valley with two college officials in mid-1991.

Maas said Bushnell agreed to donate the site only after much prodding and college officials convincing him that the college campus could serve as "a catalyst" for making his planned residential community viable at a time when the Antelope Valley's housing market is still in a recession.

College officials estimated the site is worth several million dollars.

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