Biola adding major campus construction projects to master plan

Biola administration will be seeking city approval for some major campus construction projects, and has their eye on off-campus property to extend student housing.

Michelle Hong, Writer

With Biola’s perimeters encroaching on the limits of the La Mirada neighborhoods, there is one answer to building on the main campus: up.

“The concept is to get rid of all one to two story buildings, replace them with three to four story buildings, and build at least one story [underground] and maximize every piece of square footage we can,” said Ken Bascom, senior director of Facilities Planning.
All the building modifications being made on the revised master plan are preliminary, according to Bascom. On the current plan, there are approximately 400,000 square feet Biola can build on; however, the goal is to be able to build close to 800,000 square feet.

All campus construction must be approved by the city

When the city approves a master plan for Biola, it does not necessitate the construction of everything that is proposed; but if Biola wants to build something that is not featured on the master plan, they cannot build it, according to Bascom.

“In the past, we have usually thought too small, so what we want to do is give ourselves a big menu from which we can choose and pursue funding for,” Bascom said.

Biola planning fundraising for new projects

Funding for all planned projects is supplied from donors. Biola is currently notifying donors of its $200 million need, which covers two phases of the Talbot complex, and the upcoming construction of the science center and the art center.

The university is currently working on a feasibility project headed by Greg Balsano, vice president of University Services, which will measure what the capability of the donor base is, as well as where donors are interested in donating.

The university puts its priorities out to the donor base, and whatever the donors respond with will prioritize what gets built next.

“Our own internal priorities will shape our sales pitch, but we’re not going to force people to give to something they are not interested in,” Bascom said. “We are trying to encourage a broad range of responses because we need things in all those areas.”

Parking remains Biola’s constant challenge

The only thing that the city requires Biola to do is to keep up with the parking ratio because it directly affects the residents in the surrounding neighborhoods. For every 100 students Biola admits, there must be 68 parking spaces, Bascom said.

Aside from the parking structure that will be built by fall 2011, the building of another structure between Alpha Chi and Thompson is a strong possibility, which is shown on the revisions of the master plan. Another parking option that is in consideration is an underground lot below the south campus fields that can be accessible near Hope Hall and the library.

Off-campus parking options have been reduced due to the city’s zoning ordinance, which gives residents near Biola the right to require that cars have a permit in order to park on their street. If two-thirds of any street petitions to have permit parking, the city must comply; however, despite the number of streets that require permit parking, Bascom said he does not see parking as the big issue.

“Parking is actually the easiest problem to solve; it’s not cheap, but it’s not complicated,” Bascom said. “It’s just a matter of locating parking structures.”

Limited possibilities in extending on-campus housing

Housing provides a bigger issue for Biola because it is limited in what it can do, Bascom said. The only current residence hall that is being considered for remodeling is Stewart because, aside from Emerson, it is the oldest and most inefficient dorm. According to Bascom, Hart and Emerson are too close to the neighbors and therefore cannot be remodeled. Although Sigma and Alpha are relatively older dorms, they are three stories high, which make them efficient in space. The only other on-campus option would be to build a residence hall next to Sigma Chi.

“Biola is constantly looking at off-campus properties to expand,” Bascom said. “It is always cheaper to buy or lease than to build.”

A property that is of interest is three quarters of a mile from the university, Rancho Elementary, Bascom said.

“One of the things that make Rancho attractive is the distance,” Bascom said.
According to Bascom, it will take approximately 15 to 20 years for all these plans to be in full effect.

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