Taken by Wesley Ng

On Nov 5. it was announced that the UC Path Center, the University of California’s consolidated payroll and human resources operations, will be established at an unoccupied three-story office building in the city of Riverside.

Built with LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) features, the building also known as the Intellicenter-Riverside is located in the Meridian Business Park. First completed in 2008, the building was left vacant as a result of the region’s then-dried up economy. No company wanted to make a major investment during the Great Recession.

Constructed by the Dallas-based KDC Real Estate Developments, the building was purchased from March Joint Powers Authority, who are proprietors of the surrounding land. The company is known for developing a monopoly of environmentally-certified buildings, specifically purposed for business practices. The third floor consists of 150,000 square foot and will house all UC Path operations.

“We are borrowing capital market of $17.5 million to purchase [the building] and we anticipate being able to pay that off over an 11-year period,” said UC Chief Financial Officer Peter Taylor in a phone interview.

The UC plans to utilize only the third floor of the building, leaving the remaining first two floors available for lease. Public and private sectors businesses may choose to buy out the floors as space for other operations. Rent from the tenants, paired with the building’s energy savings, will allow for the university to recoup the purchase price, according to a UC statement.

“We’re consolidating a number of people by moving them to Riverside [and] that frees up space in other locations that we no longer have to lease,” stated Taylor when referring to other cost-saving aspects of the project. The hired staff will be work under the central administrative structure of the UC financial officers.

Opening for the first time in July 2013, the shared service center will process all routine transactions across the UC’s ten campuses and five medical centers. The center is anticipated to bring an initial 140-160 jobs, first serving UCLA, UCLA Medical Center, UC Santa Cruz, UC Merced and UC Office of the President. All other campuses and medical centers will make the transition by Oct. 2014, creating a total of 500-600 professional jobs in the long run.

“The nice thing about being a big ten campus system is a lot of resources and talents that a lot of colleges don’t have…by virtue of our size. So using the campus system to support each other is a good thing. A, it will save money. B, it creates opportunities for career-path positions that currently don’t exist,” stated Taylor.

About a third of the staff will work in a call center fielding questions and assisting faculty and staff with payroll, benefits and other employment-related matters. Approximately 150 people will be initially hired by April or May, with additional hires expected to occur within 12 to 18 months. The remaining two-thirds of staff will work in the operations side. Recruitment for UC Path Center jobs is currently underway.

In May, UC Path executive sponsors selected Riverside as the official site for the center based on several factors. Evaluation criteria included the proximity of a strong pool of UC talent to staff the center, local housing and cost of living, the availability and condition of scalable office space, and the support of local leadership.

As part of UC’s Working Smart Initiative, UC Path is just one of 29 programs. “Over the last two and a half years, we’ve been able to identify about $230 million dollars of (positive) fiscal impact to the university. Now when you say positive fiscal impact, it either means lower costs so cutting cost or increased revenues or thoughtful use of our assets. So we feel very good about where we are in that front,” stated Taylor.