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VENTURA COUNTY NEWS

CSUN Biotech Complex Wins Final Approval

September 17, 1998|NANCY HILL-HOLTZMAN | TIMES STAFF WRITER

State university trustees gave final approval Wednesday to an $80-million biotechnology complex at Cal State Northridge that officials said would be built faster and yield money for the campus sooner than originally planned.

The lease for the complex has been extended by two years, to 42 years; and the university, through rent credits, has agreed to pay for $1 million in street improvements required by the city, according to a report on the project.

Alfred Mann, chairman of MiniMed--the Sylmar-based company that will relocate its corporate headquarters to the North Campus--said Wednesday construction will begin as soon as the paperwork is signed.

"We're delighted we've finally gotten approval," Mann said. "It's taken much longer than we had expected."

The plan calls for developing up to 28 acres of the North Campus for a biotech research, development and manufacturing facility of up to 680,000 square feet.

Under the agreement, CSUN stands to gain $32.5 million in rent over the 42 years of the lease. A grace period would allow MiniMed to stay three to 10 more years if the university decides then to end the partnership.

The final plan evolved significantly from the preliminary proposal presented to the trustees in March.

"It was a large project," said CSUN spokesman John Chandler. "It was a complicated negotiation. . . . There was a whole series of gives and takes relating to the negotiations."

Among the changes: Mann is making a $400,000 payment immediately, even though the biotech park won't be open until 2000, Chandler and Mann said.

Another is the pace of construction, which is being stepped up.

Rather than building the complex in stages, as originally planned, Mann said most of the project will be built at the same time. That means CSUN will get lease payments faster, Chandler said.

The only part of the project facing a delay is the area where the campus football stadium is now located. The university is deciding where to build a larger stadium.

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