District trustees approve $29 million for science building construction

The SOCCCD Board outside of the Ronald Reagan Board of Trustees room at Saddleback College. (If necessary (SOCCCD Public Affairs)

Adam Jones

The district board of trustees approved a plan to spend approximately $29 million over the next year on a new building that will house the science departments at Saddleback College. The board also approved several other large expenditures.

The $29 million expenditure is the beginning of an estimated $59 million in total building costs for the science building on the Saddleback campus.

According to Dr. Jim Wright, the new science building will have three floors. The first floor will be dedicated to physics, astronomy, geology, and marine science. The second floor will be dedicated to the biological sciences. The third floor will be dedicated to the chemical sciences. Each floor will have faculty offices for the instructors in the building, and labs suited for the subjects being studied.

“We’ve been trying to get funding from the state for three years,” Wright said. He briefly mentioned that the current Saddleback Science and Math building has been in desperate need of replacement or renovation.

When asked about a timeline for the proposed Science building, Wright said, “The design should take six to nine months, and after that we hope to break ground by next summer.”

During the South Orange County Community College District board meeting on Feb. 28, Facilities Director Brandye D’Lena presented the two options for future building within the district. First she explained the “design, bid, build” option, in which the architect and planners design the building before the contractor ever takes part in the plan. Once the design is complete, contractors bid for lowest price, and then the chosen contractor builds the structure. Details on this information can be found in the board of trustees agenda under item 4.1.

D’Lena, along with Andreas Chialtas who works for the law firm Atkinson, Andelson, Loya, Ruud, and Romo, one of California’s top law firms, proposed an alternative method to “design, bid, build” known as “lease-leaseback.”

“Lease-leaseback” is a method that brings the chosen contractor’s expertise into the process earlier on, costing the district no extra money, aside from the expected building costs.

D’Lena proposed that the board consider “lease-leaseback” as the method for constructing the new science building.

“It has been done now for 15 years, or so, with K-12 school districts, and in recent history, the last few years, with college districts,” Chialtas said. Trustee David Lang questioned the legality of “lease-leaseback.” “It is perfectly legal,” said Chialtas.

According to D’Lena, the “lease-leaseback” system will not expedite the bid process, but it will expedite the construction process.

All of these considerations were made at the suggestion of Lang, who had proposed during the last board meeting a report on how to expedite projects that the board has in line, as bidding prices are exceptionally good in this economy, and should be taken advantage of.

D’Lena prepared and gave a presentation before the board that explained how they intended to capitalize on currently low construction rates. The proposal, which outlined basic aid expenditures over the upcoming fiscal years, can be found under exhibit A in item 6.13 of the board agenda.

The other large monetary consideration made at the board meeting involved the demolition and reconstruction of a building on the Advanced Technology & Education Park campus that was no longer cost-effective to renovate. The incoming funds for the ATEP project were supplied by a New Market Tax Credit, which grew significantly since the funds were originally planned.

“[The NMTC] was just over $8 million,” said Vice Chancellor David Bugay. “What has happened is the market has changed.”

The NMTC that was allocated is now $17.3 million. This information can be found in item 4.2 of the board agenda.

“We will be purchasing a $30 million building for the total cost of the District at $12.5 million,” Bugay said.

The building’s proposed cost of demolition and construction is $29.8 million.

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