Students living in Francisco Torres might find that they have a new landlord when they return from winter break.

UCSB is close to completing the purchase of the privately-owned campus-affiliated Francisco Torres residence hall. The university and the current owners of the property, College Park Communities, have agreed on a price and are currently working to complete the necessary paperwork, Executive Director of Housing and Residential Services Wilfred Brown said. Because the deal has not been finalized, the university will not disclose the cost of the purchase, he said.

UCSB will take control of the building as soon as the deal is completed, which could come as early as the end of this year, Brown said.

“We still haven’t signed a final contract yet, but we are nearing that,” he said. “So I think it’s more formality right now; making sure all of the signatures are gathered both by the university and by the seller.”

The purchase of FT is part of UCSB’s long-term development plan to house 35 percent of its students in university-owned housing.

“Owning the property would allow us to extend a greater range of services and campus support to our students living in Francisco Torres,” Chancellor Henry Yang said. “In seeking to purchase this property, we are making a strong commitment to the quality of life of our students.”

The towers may be the future home of discussion groups, academic advising services and satellite offices of student life, Yang said.

With university ownership of FT, students living there will be required to adhere to UCSB’s General Standards of Conduct.

“What we wanted to do is just basically power through the facility making sure we get it up to a standard that the university would represent,” Brown said.

The university plans to renovate the towers during the 2003-04 school year, shutting each of the two towers down for half the year but having one open at all times, switching the 650 students from one tower to the other mid-year.

Some of the improvements that the university hopes to implement are seismic upgrades, removal of hazardous materials, new carpet and furniture, new paint, a new ventilation system and bringing the towers up to the latest health and safety codes, Brown said.

Although Santa Barbara City College students currently living in FT will be allowed to stay for the remainder of this school year, the towers will be restricted to UCSB students starting in fall 2003.

If UCSB decides to retain any of FT’s current staff members – which Brown said he anticipates will happen – they would become university employees.

Budget cuts within the UC system will not affect UCSB’s purchase of FT. Housing and Residential Services is a non-tax auxiliary organization and does not receive money from the state. The funds to pay for FT come from fees paid by students who currently live in residential halls.

College Park Communities had originally put FT up for sale in 1988. This most recent bid by UCSB is the third attempt made by the university to purchase the property. Previous attempts to purchase the complex were rejected by College Park Communities.