Dear University Community:
As most of you know, for the last several years we have been developing plans for our University Village project. As we enter the summer months, the opportunities to share updates in person are limited, therefore, I write today to give you an update on our project status.
Most recently, we have been working with Redlands resident and former mayor, Bill Cunningham, and his group, Redlanders for Responsible Growth Management (RRGM), to draft a compromise initiative to replace the current ballot initiative that limits our University Village building heights in ways that would make the project financially infeasible.
After months of negotiation and work with Mr. Cunningham, we developed an alternative ballot measure that changed the limitations of our project, making it more financially feasible. I was scheduled to present the alternative ballot measure to the Redlands City Council on Tuesday, June 21. On Monday, June 20, it came to my attention that language Mr. Cunningham added to our compromise measure would place significant restrictions on property owners in San Timoteo and Live Oak Canyons. These restrictions would impact more than 6,000 acres by decreasing the current building allotment of one home per acre of land to one home per five acres of land.
All five council members strongly support the University and University Village, yet they could not support the additional restrictions on property in the Canyonlands. Therefore, they passed our alternate ballot measure with an amendment to remove the Canyonlands restriction. As mentioned, this alternate ballot measure provides the flexibility we need so we can move forward with our project. Given the City Council’s change, it is unclear if the RRGM group through Mr. Cunningham will withdraw their current ballot measure, or if we will have two measures on the ballot in November.
While this is a confusing and less-than-optimal result, we will continue our efforts in the coming months to educate the voters and continue to work to see if there are ways that Mr. Cunningham’s concerns can be resolved so that he will withdraw the original initiative.
I would also like to give you some updates on the status of the project itself. We are currently working through negotiations with REACH, the selected developer for the project. We will not know if this project can proceed until we get a resolution on the ballot measure, finalize negotiations with REACH, and resolve several key funding issues.
Additionally, let me take this opportunity to dispel the rumors about how the University is funding this project. It is important to note that the University will not be taking on debt or using operating (or tuition) funds to build this development. Financing for this project will be a long-term land lease to the developer who will then fund the development. The University will then receive revenue in the form of lease payments for the land.
Lastly, we are years away from any impact to the Greek houses near Sylvan Boulevard. Once we have a project timeline, we will continue to work with the Greek organizations and alumni to determine the best path forward. At this point, it is too soon to know if, when, and how these structures and organizations will be impacted.
We will have more information in the coming weeks, but for now, you can visit Redlands.edu/UniversityVillage for project information.
In the meantime, I send you my best wishes for a relaxing and enjoyable summer!
Krista L. Newkirk