Four UCSB construction projects are currently in the works in an attempt to give the campus a new look and provide more housing for its growing population.

The projects include the Sierra Madre Apartments, North Campus Faculty Housing, the Ocean Road faculty and family housing projects and a remodeled campus entrance off State Route 217. Before any of these projects can get underway, UCSB must obtain permission from the California Coastal Commission (CCC).

Once the CCC approves these projects, the university can move forward with hiring developers, budgeting costs and beginning construction.

Associate Vice Chancellor of Facilities Management Mark Fisher said the rise in campus construction is a response to a 20-year standstill in development and a gradual increase in student growth.

“We are on par with other UC campuses, but this campus is going through a lot,” Fisher said. “Current construction is not tied to recent student growth, but instead we are playing a game of catch-up.”

Donna Carpenter, acting vice chancellor for Administrative Services, said the university will build the 151-unit Sierra Madre apartment complex and the 220-unit North Campus Faculty Housing Project side-by-side on North Campus, located near Ellwood Mesa and Storke Road.

According to the Facilities Management website, Sierra Madre is projected to cost $57,858,000. Because the university is awaiting approval by CCC, Fisher said the final costs of these construction projects have yet to be determined.

Sierra Madre is being funded through UC’s “third-party” plan for financing housing projects. The university will own the land, but will lease it to a developer who takes on all costs associated with building the structure. The university maintains oversight in how the commercial developer manages the complex.

As for other housing projects, Fisher said the university still needs to decide whether it will take over construction costs or lease out the properties.

“My guess is that the developer will build on our land, but they will be managing it,” Fisher said. “Contracts revert back to the campus, so we will eventually take over.”

Carpenter said UCSB hopes to get the North Campus and Sierra Madre projects on the CCC’s May agenda for approval, but it could take up to a year after that date to receive authorization to begin construction.

Based on this schedule, construction on North Campus is anticipated for completion by Spring 2009, Fisher said.

Plans for a 536-unit housing project between Ocean Road and Isla Vista are also in the works. Fisher said the project will be built on undeveloped land within in the next four years and should bridge the gap between the campus and the surrounding community.

“Rather than being a separation, [the housing] is designed to merge I.V. with campus,” Fisher said.

Reconstructing the campus entrance off State Route 217 is a more recent project, which will begin as early as April. The first part includes rebuilding the road and surrounding property, and installing a roundabout to replace the stop sign and a bus stop, Fisher said.

“There will be all new street service, less pavement, more landscaping and new graphics for announcements,” Fisher said.

The university will also reconstruct the design of the gateway – currently a cement sign that reads University of California, Santa Barbara – so it is a better visual depiction of the entrance to campus. The Campus Planning Committee proposed three potential designs for the entrance at a meeting last Tuesday.

A final decision has not been made, but a local contractor is expected to build the structure.