Solano Park, Orchard Park Apartments to close for redevelopment

Solano Park and Orchard Park Apartments are set to close for redevelopment because of their antiquity. The many structural replacements required for both buildings make renovation too costly.

Orchard Park, located in the northwest corner of UC Davis, is to close July 31, while the demolition of Solano Park, in southeast Davis, is scheduled for July 31, 2016.

The complexes have been known to provide affordable housing with spacious grass areas and community environments for full-time student families and their children since the 1960s.

Current plans for the redevelopment of Orchard Park, which will be completed by fall 2016, include student family and single graduate apartments for 500 students, as well as additional units for transitioning faculty and staff. A Graduate Student Assistant Association member and the Graduate Student Assistant to the Chancellor were asked to join the project committee. Costs for the Orchard Park project are still unknown.

“There isn’t a published cost for the replacement of Orchard Park, as these costs are still is determined as we continue negotiations with University Student Living,” said Ramona Hernandez, director of Financial and Business Services of Student Housing. “The project is subject to UC Board of Regents’ approval in May, and at that time the projected cost will be publicized.”

To maintain affordability for student-families and graduate students, Student Housing is working with Real Estate Services to negotiate with third-party developers including University Student Living and Yackzan Group. With the goal of keeping rent below market prices, rent prices will still be higher than the current apartment complexes. According to the Student Housing website, however, costs would be much higher if the properties were to be built and operated by the University of California as opposed to a third party.

Chantelise Pells, a Ph.D. candidate in geography and Solano Park resident, expressed her concerns about the community’s closure.

“It’s not going to have the same open green space; it’s going to be more condensed with basically just buildings and parking,” Pells said. “It’s not quite the same atmosphere, environment or community vibe as we presently have.”

Solano residents met three weeks ago with the new developers and were told the projected rent cost was $1,400 a month, up from the current monthly rate of $906. This significant increase in rent has caused further worry for graduate student-mothers, who said that the projected rent cost would be 95 percent of their salaries as grad student employees.

Jamiella Brooks, a fifth-year Ph.D. candidate in the French Department, said her experience at Solano has been drastically different than that at her previous home in North Davis.

“The fact that they have open spaces, they have community events every month and a space that really lives itself to having neighbors and having a feel of what we do as a community has become such an integral part of my life that I think I would have definitely left Davis a long time ago if I didn’t find my place here,” Brooks said.

Its close location to campus and family-friendly environment have also contributed to the success of being a full-time student and mother.

“I was able to nurse my baby every three hours and be at the playground with the other moms also nursing their children in between classes, and I know this is something that would be entirely lost if this environment is demolished,” said Solano resident Sara Petrosillo, a fourth-year English Ph.D. candidate.

Both Orchard Park and Solano Park serve integral roles in the lives of UC Davis students.

“The community that Solano and Orchard Park build have extended out to the community of Davis itself and there are people who have decided to stay in Davis, pretty much because of the precedent that they’ve experienced in Solano Park,” said Sarah Haughn, a fifth-year creative writing graduate student.

Student Housing encourages Orchard Park residents to move to Solano Park before Orchard’s summer closing and to email studenthousing@ucdavis.edu with the subject line “ATTN: Pat Rott” for alternative housing options.