This Date in UCSF History: Partnership to Develop Mission Bay Campus

Originally published in Synapse on December 4, 1997. At the Nov. 20 UC Regents meeting, Chancellor Haile Debas proposed the formation of a partnership between UCSF and a consortium of local business leaders called Bay Area Life Sciences Alliance (BALSA) for the development of the new UCSF Mission Bay campus.

BALSA funded the architectural design competition for the Mission Bay campus won by Machado and Silvetti Associates, Inc. last November.

Allan Long of Campus Planning expects the formation of the partnership to speed the development of the Mission Bay campus.

Because it is a “public-private non-profit partnership,” the business entity will not be subject to the red tape usually involved in UC projects, according to Long.

BALSA’s political and financial clout is expected to facilitate the first phase of development.

Work on buildings 1A, 1B, and 1C will begin by the end of 1998 and each building will take approximately two years according to Eileen O’Connell of Budget and Financial Analysis. Overall, construction of the 43-acre, $1 billion basic science research campus will take an estimated 20 years.

Debas has requested that six UCSF research groups turn in proposals for use of the new space by Dec. 10.

A faculty committee will evaluate these proposals by early January, said Keith Yamamoto, chair of the 44-faculty-member Mission Bay task force.

Student and junior faculty housing near Mission Bay is a “serious concern” of Yamamoto and campus planners. Campus Planning has hired the Sedway Group, a real estate consulting firm, to survey the cost and availability of housing within a 1.5 mile radius of Mission Bay.

Campus Planning hopes to negotiate for some of the 6,000 units that the developer, Catellus Corp., will build surrounding the Mission Bay campus. Public-Private Partnership Chiron CEO and former UCSF professor William Rutter, and Gap CEO Donald Fisher, formed BALSA in 1996 as a tax exempt nonprofit public benefit corporation.

Clifford Graves, BALSA’s president and former executive director of San Francisco’s Redevelopment Agency, says that BALSA’s goal is “to help UCSF make its second campus [at Mission Bay] a reality.”

BALSA facilitated the donation of 43 acres by Catellus for the campus. Long says that BALSA is guaranteeing some funds for the initial design work for building 1A, and contributing “legal and engineering support to negotiate and perform due diligence on the transaction between the University and Catellus.”

This includes such tasks as surveying the land, chemically testing the soil, and going over the title to the land.

The partnership’s tasks include designing the Mission Bay campus master plan, fundraising, and promoting governmental and community relations.

The international design competition funded by BALSA is an example of something that could be done more easily by a private corporation, according to Long, because a private entity does not have to follow regulations that constrain a state institution. A public university can do some things better, too — for example, securing favorable external financing. The partnership can then borrow through the UC treasurer.

Thus the land for building IA may be ground leased to the partnership by UCSF at a nominal fee. The partnership will design and build 1A and then may cither turn it over to UCSF or manage the building itself.

The most likely route for financing building IA will be the UC treasurer borrowing the money up front through the partnership, probably by issuing bonds, according to Long. This works well because UC is tax exempt as a public institution and has a sparkling borrowing record.

The other option, still under consideration, would be for UCSF to lease building 1A back from the partnership. In this option, the partnership may or may not retain ownership of the building, whereas in the first option UCSF would probably have ownership.

UC General Counsel James Hoist is currently reviewing the legal implications of the partnership.

At the Nov. 20 meeting Hoist assured the regents that UCSF will retain ultimate say over design, construction, and use of buildings and land, and will be able to sever the relationship if necessary.

The purpose of the partnership is “to allow a wider range of financing and developing... the last thing [BALSA] would want to do is intervene in making choices,” said Graves.

Altruism or self-interest?

What benefit does BALSA gain from promoting the development of the Mission Bay campus?

According to Graves, “UCSF and the San Francisco economy go hand-in-hand.” Yamamoto says that members of BALSA are “long supporters of UCSF... community leaders who would like to make UCSF a more visible part of San Francisco.”

Catellus owns the rest of 303-acre development project surrounding UCSF’s 43 acres and expects the presence of UCSF to draw biotech companies.

The development will also include open space, housing, retail space, a hotel, and recreational space.

Although the partnership will recruit biotech companies to the Mission Bay campus and the surrounding developments, Graves says that BALSA does not yet have any particular companies in mind and is not obligated to any particular company or institute.

The UC Regents are expected to approve the formation of the partnership at their January meeting.

The First Buildings

The first phase of the development for the Mission Bay campus will include 463,331 gross square feet (gsf) of office and laboratory space.

The campus will ultimately contain 2.65 million gsf of indoor space, as proposed in UCSF’s recently adopted Long Range Development Plan (LRDP).

Building 1A will cost $65 million and will cover 125,000 gsf, according to Steve Barclay, vice chancellor of business planning.

Building 1B, containing 175,000 gsf, will cost an estimated $90-$94 million, $25 million of which will be state funds. Because of the use of state funds, the partnership will not develop this building.

The demolition of the UC hospital building on Parnassus will begin when building IB is complete; the cost will be covered in the 1B construction budget.

O’Connell expects the opening of space in buildings 1A and 1B to make room for the dislocated programs.

Building 1C will include the remaining 163,000 gsf and will be funded entirely through gifts. Spaulding said UCSF’s first Capital Campaign raised $500 million, and he hopes a second Capital Campaign will raise another $250 million.

Who Goes First?

According to Yamamoto, the neuroscience program has proposed a plan for transferring a strong program that would catalyze the formation of multiple new programs at Mission Bay.

The proposals, due Dec. 10, will give all programs an opportunity to submit their ideas, including the specifics of which labs would move and how much space they would occupy.

The task force plans to maintain a “critical mass” of basic science researchers at the Parnassus Heights campus. Vacated space will allow for the decompression of labs remaining and the translocation of labs from other UCSF sites.

Michael Stryker, UCSF professor and chair of physiology and member of the Mission Bay task force, discussed the possible move of neuroscience, chemistry and structural biology, human genetics, and cellular and molecular biology.

The task force’s “Proposal for Biomedical Research and Training Programs at UCSF Mission Bay and UCSF Parnassus Heights” is available at the UCSF website.

Student Concerns Campus Planning hopes to provide university housing for 25% of UCSF’s professional and graduate students (not including house staff or junior faculty).

Currently, housing is available for 14% of the students. Of the 6,000 units that Catellus will build, 1,700 will be designated for below market rental or sale. Some of these may be leased or bought by UCSF.

Yamamoto is optimistic about the rapid development that is currently under way in the area surrounding Mission Bay. He notes that Portrero Hill, Bernal Heights, and Telegraph Hill are nearby neighborhoods, and the flat terrain would make for an easy bike commute.

Yamamoto says he is acutely aware of the importance of university housing to recruiting and retaining junior faculty.

Long said similar concerns have spurred UCLA, UC Davis, and UC Irvine to offer housing options. Although no formal mechanism for gathering student input exists, Yamamoto is open to students’ comments.

Less tangible but potentially more important to graduate and professional students is the integration of the educational, research, and clinical components of each of the UCSF sites.

Yamamoto emphasizes that integrating programs is not just an issue of site but of function. While most functional collaborations at UCSF are currently driven by individuals, Yamamoto favors an institutional fostering of collaboration.

One way to make sure researchers are “rubbing elbows” is to intersperse clinical research labs among basic science research labs.

Similarly, students may be encouraged to interact with each other and with faculty by holding classes at each campus and designing common recreational space for students, staff, and faculty.

Debas foresees the future student center at Mission Bay becoming a “focus of campus life,” with lounges, meeting rooms, a pub, and athletic facilities.