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Backgrounder on the Campus Pointe project at Fresno State

The Committee on Campus Planning, Buildings and Grounds of the CSU Board of Trustees of the California State University on Tuesday approved and certified the Final Environmental Impact Report for the Campus Pointe project at California State University, Fresno. The full board will act on the matter Wednesday, May 16.

Trustees also approved the schematic plans for the hotel and retail components of the overall project with the understanding that negotiations with the city of Fresno have ended. A formal Notice of Declaration will be filed with the State Clearinghouse House confirming certification of the EIR consistent with California Environmental Quality Act requirements.

The final approval by trustees means Fresno State is moving ahead with the Campus Pointe project, with construction set to begin in late summer.

The Campus Pointe project will provide the university community with facilities that complement the existing campus, including a hotel with meeting rooms, multifamily housing for students, faculty and staff, as well as small-scale retail to support the surrounding university community. It is being built on approximately 45 acres of university property across from the Save Mart Center at the northeast corner of Shaw and Chestnut avenues.

The project will proceed despite the university and the city of Fresno not being able to reach mutual agreement on various city fees and services.

“The City of Fresno continues to assert that this project is a 100 percent private development,” said Deborah Adishian-Astone, who is directing the project for the university’s auxiliary organization. “The university is not a typical developer and the Campus Pointe project is not a typical retail or housing development found in other city developments,” Adishian-Astone said. “This project is a unique public-private development. The Campus Pointe project is located on Fresno State land, which is within the jurisdiction of the CSU system and is being developed to support and enhance the university’s educational mission.”

Fresno State successfully completed discussions with other local and state agencies regarding off-site mitigation and other CEQA issues. The university was able to reach agreements with the city of Clovis and the state Department of Transportation prior to finalizing the EIR. The only outstanding issues were with the city of Fresno.

The Campus Pointe project is funding all of its own utility infrastructure and street improvements, totaling close to $12 million. No state funds or university general funds are being used in the project. The project will pay possessory use taxes, hotel taxes and other taxes applicable to this type of development. Improvements being made will not only serve the project, but they will also improve traffic safety and other services that benefit surrounding campus neighborhoods.

Campus Pointe adds critically needed conference and meeting rooms to the rapidly growing university. It provides convenient housing in an on-campus friendly environment for students and faculty. It provides jobs for students and work experience and internship opportunities for students studying business, hospitality, tourism, marketing and gerontology. A planned theater will provide overflow large lecture space.

One of the projects approved today includes the Hyatt Place Hotel. This hotel will be the only Hyatt product located in the San Joaquin Valley – the closest similar hotels are in Sacramento and Los Angeles. The hotel will accommodate visiting faculty, students and their families, as well as people attending academic conferences, Save Mart Center events, and other athletic and university events.

“We continue to hear nothing but positive comments from our community about being able to attract a first-class business hotel as part of the Campus Pointe project,” Adishian-Astone said. “Imagine how helpful it will be to have this facility right here on campus for parents attending Commencement, business people attending a campus conference or out-of-town sports fans attending an event at Fresno State’s Bulldog Stadium or Save Mart Center.

“Fresno State competes aggressively with other universities for the top faculty and students,” Adishian-Astone said. “It’s important that we provide quality, affordable housing for our students, faculty and staff that is conveniently available near the campus. In addition, our students expect certain services and amenities to be available within walking distance of the campus that currently do not exist. Our community has demonstrated that it will support the university when we offer truly excellent facilities and programs.”

On April 20, a meeting between Fresno State President John D. Welty and Fresno City Manager Andy Souza was held to resolve outstanding issues about impact fees for parks and recreation, police and regional street fees.

The university had agreed to the following items:

All Campus Pointe tenants would be subject to all applicable sales tax and business license fees, hotel taxes and applicable Fresno County possessory interest tax.

The project developer would be responsible for the construction of all utility infrastructures and off-site improvements to serve the project, currently totaling over $11 million.

The meeting room space being included with the hotel is not large enough to be seen as competitive with city convention facilities.

A regional collaborative planning initiative would be established to enable the city and other area agencies to fully participate in the campus master planning process.

The university would lead and convene a traffic management committee to evaluate traffic flow around the project. Those meetings have already started to occur on a regular basis.

Fresno State would provide access to university grounds to the city of Fresno for its parks and recreation program. Campus Pointe includes 5.7 acres of open space for recreation as well as dedicated recreation facilities for its residents. The university also offered to secure funding to purchase land for a neighborhood park west of the campus for residents of the El Dorado neighborhood.

The university would pay appropriate fire impact fees and $150,000 for its fair share of police impact fees given the jurisdictional requirements of the University’s Police Department.

Fresno State was seeking a credit, or offset, for roadway improvements on Chestnut Avenue and University right-of-way required for future city street improvements against a newly approved regional street impact fee. On May 5, the university concluded its good faith efforts to reach agreement with the city of Fresno on additional regional roadway impact fees, police fees, parks and recreation fees.

Backgrounder on the Campus Pointe project at Fresno State