PORTLAND-Portland State University will receive $300,000 from the federal government to support new development at its campus on the southwest edge of downtown Portland, Sen. Gordon Smith announced this week. The money will be used to help fund the university’s planned new engineering building as well as an extension of the Central City Streetcar through its campus.

The engineering building, a $70 million project, is scheduled for ground breaking in 2003. Despite the small amount of the grant, university officials say it sets a precedent for federal assistance in the university’s effort to create a nationally renowned engineering program and to help to meet the State’s goal of doubling the number of graduates in engineering by 2010. The city already has committed $5 million toward the university’s efforts, and the state is selling another $7.2 million in bonds to help cover construction costs.

Some of the state funds will be used to renovate and upgrade the university’s electrical and computer engineering facilities, the first phase in the University’s plans to create a Northwest Center for Engineering, Science, and Technology located at the PSU Fourth Avenue building. The plan includes renovating more space in the Fourth Avenue Building and constructing a second building on the site. The University will pay for the debt service on the bonds primarily with lease revenues paid by a private tenant occupying another portion of the Fourth Avenue Building.

The computer science and electrical and computer engineering departments are currently located in the Portland Center for Advanced Technology, next to the new Urban Center. The University plans to use the space in the PCAT building for classrooms to meet the large enrollment increases experienced campus-wide and for other general use functions for the University. Long term plans for the University call for the demolition of the PCAT building and construction of a larger building, including retail and other businesses.

The City and PSU are working together on a joint plan for development of the south end of the central city. This plan is key to the further development of the University District and calls for the construction of a Northwest Center for Engineering, Science, and Technology with access to the Portland Central City Streetcar. The University District plan has received national attention linking Oregon’s urban university with the City’s goals for housing, job creation, transportation and open spaces.

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