[caption id="attachment_56119" align="alignright" width="400" caption="Marymount College hopes to open a new school at the historic, county-owned Lucerne Hotel in Lake County. (credit: Press Democrat)"][/caption]

LAKE COUNTY -- Marymount College, a private four-year Catholic college operating campuses in Palos Verdes, and  worldwide, is on track to open  a new facility at the historic 50,000-square-foot Lucerne Hotel in Lake County, after entering into an agreement with county officials and following discussions that began in June 2011.

The memorandum of understanding -- approved unanimously by the college’s board of trustees on Saturday and by the Lake County Board of Supervisors last week -- includes a $1-per-year lease fee for the first five years, with half of the college’s net revenue shared with the county thereafter. That reduced fee will help in the financing of capital improvements like dormitory rooms and faculty housing.

Marymount is continuing to plan for specific academic programs and capacity at the site, with a goal of securing accreditation to offer four-year and other academic programs in 2014, according to the memorandum. Small-scale academic programs at the site could begin even sooner, with a 15-year lease expected to begin July 1, 2013.

The campus will be the first rural location for Marymount, which operates other campuses in suburban and urban areas, said spokeswoman Kelly Curtis. Current policy maintains fees that equal those of the University of California system, and the site’s four-year programs could prove to draw transfer students from the region’s community colleges.

The hotel, known widely as “the castle,” is a Swiss Alpine-style structure built before the Great Depression. It is currently owned by the county, following a 2010 purchase that included the goal of promoting academic programs on the site. The memorandum includes a provision to allow Marymount to purchase the property in the future.

In addition to academic offerings, the site could host a number of continuing education programs catering to seniors and veterans, as well as Native American and Hispanic populations, according to the memorandum.

The cost of renovation at the site, including accessibility improvements, will be shared by both Marymount and the county. The college and the county plan to join in the formation of a nonprofit foundation that will oversee several aspects of campus operations, and the memorandum includes that Marymount will support research concerning issues facing Lake County.

The financial partnership stands to provide no less than $85,000 per year to Lake County and up to $250,000. County officials are expected to finalize a lease "as soon as possible," according to the memorandum.