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Monday, Jul 22, 2024

Concordia Pays $44M For Spectrum Campus

Concordia University Irvine has paid $43.5 million for a nearly 114,000-square-foot building in the Irvine Spectrum to accommodate growth of the school’s healthcare and nursing program.

The building at 16355 Laguna Canyon Road is about 3 miles away from Concordia’s main Turtle Rock Campus, and near the hospital and healthcare facilities of Kaiser Permanente and Hoag Memorial Hospital Presbyterian within the city’s Medical and Science complex, off Alton Parkway.

The location and building was a good fit for the school, according to Concordia University Irvine President Dr. Michael Thomas, as the 6.6-acre site was previously used for the nursing school operations of the University of Massachusetts Global, a private education system that rebranded from Brandman University in 2020.

Brandman previously operated under the Chapman University umbrella.

Concordia, which is gearing up for its 50th anniversary in 2026, is a Lutheran Christian university with more than 60 undergraduate and graduate programs. It serves over 3,500 students at its Irvine campus.

“We are excited to open a new property in this vibrant medical corridor where we will be educating the future healthcare workforce in Orange County,” Thomas told the Business Journal.

Irvine Relocation, Expansion

UMass Global sold the property for nearly $382 per square foot; it’s among the larger office deals seen in the city the past year.

UMass will continue to lease one floor of the building for approximately 18 months as it transitions to a new facility.

The building, first built in 1998, has been renamed the Spectrum Campus.

Approximately 25,000 square feet of the 113,882-square-foot building will house

Concordia’s growing Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing (ABSN) program, with the remainder tapped for other healthcare and academic programs along with university offices. The property also includes a 690-space parking lot and structure.

Concordia is moving its nursing program from the Park Place office campus near the John Wayne Airport, where it operated out of an 11,000-square-foot teaching facility.

The lease was set to expire this August; the expiration, combined with a “substantial increase in the lease price,” and new demand for Concordia’s programs, prompted the university to look for a new space.

It financed the acquisition through the Lutheran Church Extension Fund.

Growing Demand

The Spectrum Campus is expected to open in August and will house 250 students, an approximately 35% increase from years prior for the school’s local healthcare and nursing program.

“We’ve had an accelerated bachelor of nursing program over the past decade or so, and in the years since we’ve noticed more interest in our program,” Thomas said, driven in part by the company’s high average passing rate for the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN exam)—a requirement for entry-level nurses—of 96%, above the overall average of nearly 83% in 2021.

Demand for the school has also been bolstered by an ongoing nursing shortage, exacerbated during the pandemic.

“We’ve been working with the California Board of Registered Nursing to increase our enrollment because we have been turning away far more students than we can possibly accept,” Thomas said.

In November, the board granted the school to increase its admission count by 64 students, prompting the organization to look for a new space as it outgrew its Park Place lease.

Tuition for the nursing program runs around $55,000; registered nurses in California make an average yearly salary between $75,000 and $120,000, according to Dr. Cheryl Smythe-Padgham, Concordia’s director of nursing.

Workforce Development

Concordia also owns its original 72-acre campus in Turtle Rock, which first opened in 1976.
Spectrum Campus will initially employ about 30 faculty members, administrative personnel and other staff for the nursing operations.

Concordia is looking into additional uses for the building, which currently includes 20,000-square-feet of state-of-the-art nursing teaching space and about 90,000-square-feet of additional classrooms, offices, workstations and unique educational spaces.

“We want to introduce two to three new healthcare programs headed by our School of Health and Human Sciences,” Thomas said. “We are committed to workforce development in Orange County, and we’re very excited to be a member of the Irvine community.”

Inland Empire

Concordia is eyeing additional facilities in Southern California to accommodate its nursing school growth.

In addition to approving the enrollment increase, the state nursing board also gave Concordia the OK to open another nursing building in the Inland Empire this year.

It has leased a 20,923-square-foot building in Rancho Cucamonga that will ultimately accommodate nearly 300 nursing students.

“It will be about two to three years to get fully ramped up at that satellite campus,” Thomas said. “We are in the process of building out the site and hiring additional staff, and we plan to open by the winter or spring semester,” Thomas said.

Hybrid Program

Concordia’s current nursing program is a 15-month accelerated plan for students who have already received a bachelor’s degree.

The school plans to add a hybrid option for students looking to finish both their general education degree and their nursing degree in a shorter time frame.

Students of the new hybrid program—expected to launch in time for the opening of the Spectrum Campus—will go through two years of Concordia’s core curriculum before applying to the nursing program.

If admitted, they will go through the 15-month accelerated course in lieu of the final two years typically used for the undergraduate program.

“It’s exciting because we will be able to cut time from the degree and get these students into the workforce faster,” Thomas said.

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