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November 1, 1999

University and city officials dedicate downtown building

By Barbara McKenna

Photo of University Town Center
University Town Center
Photo: Barbara McKenna
Representatives from the city of Santa Cruz and UCSC came together on Monday, November 1, to dedicate the University Town Center. The new five-story 86,000 square-foot building is located in the heart of downtown Santa Cruz on the site of the former Ford's Department Store, which was destroyed in the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake.

The dedication ceremony featured a ribbon cutting and music by the UCSC West Javanese Gamelan ensemble. Among those making comments at the ceremony were Chancellor Greenwood; Santa Cruz City Mayor Katherine Beiers; Don Hazen, an associate planner with the City of Santa Cruz Planning Department; Michael Schmidt, CEO of the Santa Cruz Area Chamber of Commerce; and Barry Swenson, president of Barry Swenson Builder. Others attending the event included local business leaders and campus faculty and staff.

UCSC and city officials both have reason to celebrate the completion of the new building, which will provide space for UCSC programs as well as private retailers and other businesses.

The building was designed by Thacher & Thompson Architects of Santa Cruz and constructed by Barry Swenson Builder of San Jose and Santa Cruz. The UC Regents, on behalf of UCSC, have signed a ten-year lease on the space with the building's owner, Canfield, Laurel and Pacific L.P. (a limited partnership comprising Barry Swenson Builder and the Santa Cruz Seaside Company).

Those from UCSC using the space will be University of California Extension, Santa Cruz (UCSC Extension) and the UTC Residential Office (a part of UCSC's Housing, Dining and Child Care Services program). The top two floors of the building provide 54 residential apartments for regularly enrolled UCSC students and students in UCSC Extension's English Language International Program. On the second floor are UCSC Extension offices, a graphics and computer lab, classrooms, and a student lounge.

"We're delighted by the completion of the University Town Center," said Chancellor Greenwood. "The downtown location is ideal, bringing the classroom right into the heart of the Santa Cruz Community." Greenwood also noted that, "This project epitomizes the type of collaboration we strive for, one that involves and benefits the entire community. In this case, everyone from our students to downtown business owners to community members has reason to celebrate."

UCSC Extension will offer more than 100 courses each quarter at the new downtown facility, including courses in the humanities, art and design, computing, education, and natural sciences. UCSC Extension is also conducting the English Language International (ELI) program at UTC. ELI serves the language and cultural needs of international students and professionals by providing courses in English proficiency and communications.

Student residents and UCSC Extension staff moved into the new building in mid-September. Previously, UCSC Extension was located in the Galleria, off of Front Street where registration offices will be maintained. "The new University Town Center offers UCSC Extension the opportunity to expand and enhance our course offerings for residents of the Central Coast, " said Marcie Dekking, interim dean of UCSC Extension. "We are very pleased with the new location, which makes our programs more accessible to the community we aim to serve."

One of the primary users of the new facility is UCSC Extension's English Language International Program, which offers five- and ten-week courses to those wishing to learn English. "The students in the international programs are taking full advantage of their opportunity to study and live at University Town Center," according to Judith McCarrick, assistant dean of UCSC Extension. "On-site housing facilitates the learning experience of our international students in numerous ways. They don't need to be distracted by transportation and other logistical concerns. Additionally, they have the added advantage of sharing space with English-speaking students, so that they can develop language skills outside of the classroom as well."

The facility also assists in providing much-needed housing for UCSC students in Santa Cruz's tight housing market. Students who occupy the two-person apartments rent from UCSC's Housing, Dining, and Child Care Services program, which provides housing to approximately 5,200 UCSC students this year.

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