UC Davis West Village opens to mixed reviews

UC Davis is moving ahead with its plans for a new student, faculty and staff neighborhood on campus.

UC Davis is moving ahead with its plans for a new student, faculty and staff neighborhood on campus.

The plan was proposed in 2003 and opened this fall to accommodate the increase in student enrollment and allow for more affordable housing for students, faculty and staff.

Upon its completion, the project, situated west on CA-113, south of Russell Boulevard and north of Hutchison, will boast 474 units of faculty and staff housing, 1,015 units of student housing and a community center, among other things.

Of the 1,489 total units to be completed, the first 315 are already ready to be occupied this month and many are looking forward to moving into the other units once they are completed.

Carmel Partners, who are working on this project with Urban Villages of Denver, stated that since July, 98 percent of the 654 bedrooms in the Ramble portion of the project have already been leased and 75 percent of the 192 bedrooms in the Viridian portion have been leased.

Including utilities and high speed internet, prices in the Ramble portion start at $748 a month per person and prices at the Viridian complex begin at $1,896 per month for a two-bedroom unit, $1,495 for a one-bedroom.

While many look forward to West Village’s debut, some wished it had opened sooner.

“I wish this was around while I was [a student] here,” said Eric Flounders, an assistant in the entomology and nematology department. “It looks amazing and is close to campus.”

Student housing will consist of three and four-story apartments in styles ranging from one to four-bedroom apartments.

Larger homes will be located along the “main street” and townhouses and apartments will accommodate a wide variety of family sizes and income levels.

The project, which is to be completed in three phases, will be home to the 60,000 square foot Sacramento City College Davis Center, making it the first community college ever located on a UC campus. There will be 42,500 square feet of retail space and a 15,000 square foot recreation center. Other amenities include bicycle paths to recreation fields, pools, a fitness center and a games and theater room.

Perhaps the most significant part of the project, however, is the fact that it is the largest planned zero-net energy development in the United States. Using a 4-megawatt solar powered system, the development will put as much power back into the electrical grid as it takes out.

In The Davis Enterprise, Lt. Governor Gavin Newsom touted the project as “the most significant project of its type anywhere in the [U.S].”

Cutting-edge energy saving technologies such as on site water-retention, solar reflective roofs, highly insulated 2×6 inch exterior walls and wall outlets programmable by smart phones have allowed the project to exceed California Title 24 building code energy use standards by 50 percent.

“UC Davis West Village demonstrated the university’s unwavering commitment to sustainability and clean energy solutions,” said UC Davis Chancellor Linda Katehi in a press release.

While those working on the project have flaunted West Village’s amenities and its future, those currently living there have given mixed reviews.

A veterinary graduate student, who asked to remain anonymous, moved up from southern California in May and was drawn to the Viridian portion of West Village because of its proximity to campus and highly publicized amenities.

While at first taken aback by the nearly $1,000 a month per bedroom price tag of a two-bedroom apartment, she still signed a lease because she was offered two months of free rent and a $500 Visa Gift card, which she said made the yearly price reasonable.

The student was dismayed when she found out that the Viridian, which was to open early for graduate students, was not ready and she and her roommate would have to stay in the Ramble for three weeks. This was just the beginning of her problems, as the apartments were dirty, appliances did not work and some amenities promised, such as lights and outlets that could be programmed with a smart phone, were not even present in the apartment. She was unable to sleep, as her apartment shares a wall with a noisy elevator and construction starts at six in the morning and ends after midnight.

“I have class at eight in the morning,” said the student. “I generally wouldn’t complain about construction, but it is affecting my studies.”

The noise at Viridian was so bad that Carmel Partners sent out representative Stacey Lecocke, who placed many residents in the Hyatt on campus.

While she remains positive that West Village will one day be a wonderful place to live, the graduate student said she feels that she was intentionally deceived and has since asked to be compensated or let out of her lease without being penalized.

Editor’s note: Numbers in this story were updated for current totals.

ELLIS CLARK can be reached at city@theaggie.org.