BEND, Ore. -

Wendy Castillo, a single mom and senior business student at OSU-Cascades, said Friday she was “super-excited” to hear that the Bend branch campus has chosen its new home, a 56-acre parcel on the west side of town.

“I’m more excited for those freshmen and sophomores of 2015,” Castillo said.

The four-year branch campus choice, a closely guarded secret, was revealed Friday, with a price tag of nearly $13 million.

“We think this will give us a really great start to a four-year campus in the fall of 2015,” OSU-Cascades Vice President Becky Johnson told NewsChannel 21 during a visit to the site on Friday.

“It’s really very indicative of Central Oregon’s environment,” she said. “You’ve got the Ponderosa pines, the High Desert landscape.”

It’s not all pretty, though – 46 acres were part of a pumice mine – nor was the site the school’s first choice.

“A lot of things that we were hoping to be looking at, in terms of existing buildings, have just gotten out of our price range right now,” Johnson said.

The timeline to transform the land into a campus is aggressive: “We’re hoping to break ground in June or July of next year,” Johnson said.

First up is a living and learning center – part dorm, part classrooms.

“If you want to attract students from outside the region, parents want to know that their kids are going to have a safe place to live,” Johnson explained.

After the purchase, the university will have about $11 million left to develop the site, bordered by commercial land on three sides and already zoned for the university.

Despite the challenges ahead, students like Castillo have their eye on the future.

“Having that environment, that school environment – you know, the student community,” she said. “So I think that is one of the things that this new campus is going to bring.”

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The full announcement Friday morning from OSU-Cascades:

OSU-Cascades officials announced Friday they have chosen two adjoining parcels on Bend's Westside, totaling 56 acres and costing roughly $12 million, as the new home for the school's four-year branch campus.

School officials will propose the acquisition to the Finance and Administration Committee of the State Board of Higher Education at its Sept. 20 meeting

University officials are planning for a campus that will welcome freshmen and sophomores for the first time in fall 2015 and anticipate an enrollment of 3,000 to 5,000 students by 2025.

OSU-Cascades has operated within  a "2+2" model since it was founded in 2001, partnering with Central Oregon Community College for lower division courses, and providing upper-division and graduate courses leading to bachelor’s and master’s degrees. 

While the 2+2 model will continue, the State Board of Higher Education endorsed OSU-Cascades’ expansion to a four-year university in August of 2012 and the 2013 Oregon Legislature authorized initial funding for the expansion to a four-year branch campus of OSU.

The properties are located adjacent to each other and consist of a total of 56 acres.  They are located near the intersection of Southwest Century Drive and Chandler Avenues in Bend and are a half-mile from the Graduate & Research Center, 1.9 miles from downtown Bend, 1.3 miles from the Old Mill, and 2.8 miles from Central Oregon Community College.

One parcel is a 10-acre undeveloped site zoned for limited commercial use on Chandler Avenue. The seller is Cascades Property Holdings, LLC.  The second site, also located on Chandler, is 46 acres, part of which contains a pumice mine and the balance of which is zoned for residential use.  The seller is 4-R Equipment, LLC.

In spring 2012, Oregon State University President Ed Ray charged OSU-Cascades administrators with proposing a future campus site that would help meet Oregon’s education goals and enroll 3,000 to 5,000 students by 2025.

Selection of proposed sites for the campus was also informed through a space planning study and a survey of available Bend area real estate. The study considered the site’s appeal to prospective students, parents and faculty, as well as the sites’ ability to attract public-private partnerships that could support the region’s economic development.  Proximity to COCC was also a factor.

Becky Johnson, vice president of OSU-Cascades said other attributes were also considered important to the campus site selection.  She said the location of the properties -- near hiking and biking trails, athletic and medical facilities, and shopping areas -- allows the university to partner with local businesses while  focusing state resources on the construction of student learning, housing, dining and gathering facilities.