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Should CSUN MarketCenter Plan Be Saved?

September 23, 1997|DIANE WEDNER | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

Cal State Northridge President Blenda J. Wilson has withdrawn a controversial plan for the development of a retail center on the school's property after CSU Chancellor Barry Munitz said the project would not generate enough revenue to justify commercial use of university land.

Munitz requested that Wilson rework the project, which includes a task force's recommendations for a football stadium and a hotel, and deliver a more comprehensive master plan for the school's 65-acre North Campus.

Opponents of the proposed University MarketCenter insist there is already a retail glut in Northridge. Those in favor of the plan believe it adequately serves the needs of the university and the community.

Is the proposed University MarketCenter plan worth salvaging?

Tony Pasano, Sherwood Forest Homeowners Assn.:

"The North Campus project is worth salvaging because the 28-person task force that spent five weeks working on this project felt that most of the plans they came up with were viable for the university and the Northridge community, especially the hotel and conference center and the football stadium. The 65 acres are lying fallow. . . . I believe it's better the land be developed than undeveloped, provid-ing the development is viable for all parties concerned. We're looking for a combination of educational use as well as private use that will provide revenue to the university."

Dick Hardman, executive director, Northridge Chamber of Commerce:

"I think [the project] was ill-conceived in the first place since it would do nothing more than raise funds, and it didn't take into account the other needs of the university and the community. . . . I applaud Blenda Wilson for her courageous step, and we will do whatever we can to cooperate in making a very good master plan [that will] last for many years to come."

Art Elbert, vice president for administration and finance at CSUN:

"I think the intent for the development of the property is that it support the educational mission of the university and that we develop the property so as to accommodate the neighbors and still improve the quality of life for our students and the broader community. So the concept of developing the North Campus is a very viable one because there would be a variety of facilities there that would produce revenue for the university, enhance the quality of the academic programs and develop the property so that it's more valuable for the community, both in terms of service for the community and in increasing the tax base paid to the city."

Kathleen Haff, board member, Northridge Estates Townhome Assn.:

"They can try to salvage the plan for the 65 acres, but they must have a master plan. That's why they ran into so much opposition. . . . We can't agree with a market center now; we don't know what will happen 10 years from now. We don't know what we're basing it on. I'm ecstatic that they're going back to square one and reevaluating the plan as a whole. . . . I'm not an adversary of CSUN, but I want the university to work with the community from square one."

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