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Pierce/Woodard//mike1st/mark2nd By CHRISTOPHER WOODARD Staff Reporter The attempt by Pierce College to solicit bids from companies wishing to develop a 240-acre swath of farmland on campus was poorly coordinated and inadequately advertised, campus officials concede. Now that the college has rejected all bids, officials say things will be different when they reopen the bidding the second time around. The college has hired business consultants to look out for Pierce’s interests while working to market the project to developers nationwide, said Martin Mota, chairman of the Pierce College Council, the campus governing board. Also, school officials hope to do a better job of listening to neighbors and including them in the decision-making process, he said. “I think it was just better to pull back and regroup,” said Mota, a computer science teacher. “We want to make sure whatever we do, we don’t regret it 10, 15 or 20 years from now.” Concurrent with its solicitation of bids on the farm, the campus will request bids from companies wishing to develop a biomedical office park at the corner of Winnetka Avenue and Victory Boulevard. Ahmed Enany, executive director of the Southern California Biomedical Council, said his group is in discussions with several companies, including some international players, about becoming the proposed park’s anchor tenant. While those discussions are still preliminary, Enany said he is optimistic that a large player will step forward. The farm property on the Woodland Hills campus is one of the San Fernando Valley’s largest expanses of open space. Beset by budget deficits and forced to cut course offerings in recent years, the college hit upon the idea of developing the farm as a way to raise needed cash. The college received five proposals to develop the land or set up educational programs, but the College Council recommended on Nov. 24 that all five be rejected. Mota said none of the proposals met the college’s income requirement and each of the bids had serious limitations. Members of the council were disappointed that the solicitation resulted in only five bids, and they hope by reopening the process more developers will step forward. Jerry Katell, developer of the nearby Warner Ridge property, had joined with Lowe Enterprises Commercial Group to submit a bid for developing a championship golf course, hotel and office park. He said the college is going to have a tough time finding developers willing to make payments before the project clears the city planning process. Katell estimated his project, one of the five rejected bids, would generate $1.4 million annually for the college. Over 20 years, that would be $10 million more than the college’s minimum requirement. But under Katell’s proposal, payments to the college wouldn’t start until the project passed city muster. Mota conceded that their search for a developer willing to make an upfront payment of $800,000 may prove fruitless, but they have decided to conduct the search nonetheless. The committee also felt Katell’s bid would result in the over-development of the property, and that it didn’t have a very strong educational component, another requirement specified in the solicitation. The bid that came closest to meeting the college’s expectations was submitted by Qvale/Colbert Golf Properties LLC of Las Vegas and Eddie Milligan, owner of the Hansen Dam Equestrian Center in Lake View Terrace. Their proposal was to build new animal science facilities, including an equine hospital, in addition to a championship golf course. The proposal called for the Golf Course Superintendents of America, an education-oriented trade organization, to set up a learning laboratory to train college students in golf course maintenance and operation. But that proposal also was rejected because payments to the college would not start for several years, and because the council did not approve of the developers operating the equine hospital themselves as a for-profit business. Representatives of the group were not immediately available for comment. A proposal by C.W. Ahn Engineering LLC of Wilmington for a golf course and driving range wasn’t particularly well thought out, said Mota. And the two other bidders the Coalition to Save the Farm (a group of neighbors who proposed turning the property into a teaching lab), and teacher Hilla Futterman (who proposed a medicinal-herb farm) failed to include a required $250,000 deposit with their bids, in addition to failing to meet the revenue requirement.

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