By Andrew Theen 

Oregon State University said Tuesday it will move forward with a long-desired plan to buy 46 acres in Bend for $8.1 million.

The property, which includes a pumice mine, is next to the 10-acre OSU-Cascades campus that’s under construction and scheduled to open in the fall.

The deal is evidence of the school’s plan to significantly expand its Central Oregon footprint, and officials said Tuesday that the vision of a Bend campus with 3,000 to 5,000 students by 2025 is that much closer to becoming a reality.

“The potential addition of this property has been considered and discussed publicly for some time,” Becky Johnson, OSU-Cascades vice president, said in a statement. “Expanding our campus onto this property also supports Oregon’s land use goals of increasing density rather than sprawl.”

The current 10-acre campus at Southwest Chandler Avenue and Southwest Century Drive is being built to accommodate up to 1,890 students. Construction includes a 43,650-square-foot classroom and office building and a 113,000-square-foot residence hall and dining center.

The State Board of Education approved the pumice mine deal in 2013, and Bend city officials also signed off on the school’s 10-acre plan.

Some local residents fought against it, citing the location near the Deschutes River on Bend’s westside as problematic, along with what they argued was the university’s effort to skirt expensive land use processes for projects larger than 20 acres.

But local leaders and state courts were in unison, disagreeing with opponents. Those against the expansion lost multiple appeals, most recently when the Oregon Supreme Court declined in December to hear the case.

In its statement Wednesday, OSU said it had expanded its “community engagement” since November. “This type of development will promote alternative transportation modes, and we are committed to extending transit to other Central Oregon communities so that they can easily access the new campus,” Johnson said.

OSU established its Bend presence in 2001 and has a building on Central Oregon Community College’s campus, which is about three miles away from the new campus.

OSU is also looking at a nearly 76-acre plot adjacent to the pumice mine, owned by Deschutes County, for even more expansion.