Last Wednesday, Escondido City Council members loosened zoning restrictions that would allow John Paul the Great Catholic University to move into space occupying nearly an entire city block.
The University hopes to lease two buildings and purchase a third.The new site is located 17 miles from the campus' current location. The new location would expand the campus' space from 13,000 square feet to 60,000 square feet.
While the plan differed from the council’s goal to fill the space with restaurants, nightclubs, and retail shops, the council voted 4-1 in favor of the proposal.
“This will bring an infusion of people to downtown,” said Councilman John Masson.
"What's most exciting about the new location in historic downtown Escondido is both larger facilities and public infrastructure," President Derry Connolly told The Cardinal Newman Society. "We plan to build four sound-stages, where multiple students and faculty film projects can happen simultaneously - up from our current single sound-stage. We will also have a dedicated TV studio, a sound lab for radio, and a video gaming capture lab."
In addition, the new campus would be located near the California Center for the Performing Arts, which has a 1,500 seat concert hall, and a 400 seat theater. Escondido also has a large public library, and a train station within walking distance, with easy service to Hollywood.
"The City Council approval allows us to submit for a Conditional Use Permit (CUP) for the initial facilities," explained Connolly. "We're submitting that Feb. 25 on a building we have just entered escrow on and one we are about to lease. While we are very optimistic that the project will move forward, we have learned not to count our chickens until they are hatched."
The next steps include filing the CUP, completing due-diligence on the building being purchased, and signing leases on two other buildings. Once that's complete, university officials have said they could start holding classes in Escondido as early as this spring. The projected site would be sufficient for the University, officials said, for at least a decade.
Catholic Education Daily is an online publication of The Cardinal Newman Society. Click here for email updates and free online membership with The Cardinal Newman Society.