Photo Credits: REBECCA CAMPBELL / AGGIE
UC Davis Student Housing and Dining Services attempts to keep up with low vacancy rates
UC Davis Student Housing and Dining Services is planning on rolling out several changes in the next couple of years, including limitations on late night dining options, the opening of thousands of additional beds on and off-campus and more.
Many students may be aware of the extensive construction project underway in the Cuarto dorm area. The university has torn down Webster Hall, and in its place will be Yosemite Hall, a brand-new facility set to provide 400 beds for first-years in Fall Quarter of 2019.
The Cuarto area, however, will be nowhere near done with construction after Yosemite Hall opens, the Associate Vice Chancellor for SHDS, Mike Sheehan, suggested.
“The next project in the Cuarto Area will be the replacement of Emerson Hall, which will be demolished this summer and being replaced by by Shasta Hall, a new 800-bed residence hall serving both first and second year students,” Sheehan said via email. “This new hall is set to open in fall 2021.”
Additionally, the university has been expanding the Tercero dorm area for several years, which they felt called for the opening of an additional dining facility on the corner of Tercero Hall Drive and Bioletti Way. Latitude, the new dining commons, opens Fall 2019 and will feature indoor and outdoor seating as well as a retail component.
Sheehan also touched on the closure of late-night hours in certain dining facilities.
“Over the past few years, late night dining (9pm-midnight) has experienced low participation rates,” Sheehan said. “Therefore, during the 2019-20 academic year, SHDS will be piloting a new program that will be consolidated in the central location at the Segundo DC. This new program will be connected with our residential education program intentionally to provide both social and educational elements.”
Lastly, Sheehan noted that all new dormitory construction projects, such as Shasta Hall, Yosemite Hall and the new dorms in Tercero, were constructed to house three people per room, commonly referred to as “triples.”
“All of our new properties have been designed at an appropriate square footage that allows for the ability to configure as triple occupancy,” Sheehan said. “The percentage of triples in our inventory has increased as we have been in construction with new buildings and replacing old buildings. Within our long-term plan, our goal is to provide the appropriate amount of triples to ensure balance of options for students.”
Grant Rockwell, the executive director of real estate for UC Davis, opened up about the ongoing West Village expansion, the continuing housing crisis in Davis and the role the university hopes to play in the new apartment complex.
Rockwell explained that the West Village expansion project is ultimately aiming to combat the housing crisis that both the university and the city are facing. The team hopes that by providing around 3,300 beds for students over the next two and a half years, vacancy rates will improve in residents’ favor.
“As you know, the UC Davis student population increased pretty considerably over the last five to ten years,” Rockwell said. “Housing stock both on campus and in the city just didn’t keep up with that.”
In keeping with the original purpose of West Village, these new apartments will be designated first for transfer students and continuing undergraduates. Rockwell mentioned that transfer students tend to struggle when finding housing, seeing that Davis students sign leases in January or February, while transfer students don’t find out their admissions decisions until April. This gives them little to no time to plan ahead for housing if they’re unaware of what school they’ll attend.
The new West Village apartments will guarantee transfer students housing as part of their acceptance, allowing them a secure housing option in the likely event that all other housing options have been filled by current students.
All day-to-day operations in the new apartments will be carried out by SHDS, including management of student contracts, rent payment and more.
The current West Village properties are far less affiliated with the university than the future ones will be — originally, the existing West Village owners acquired the property from UC Davis, developed the project themselves and were responsible for all marketing, leasing and other operations.
“With the new phase of West Village, it’s going to be considerably different,” Rockwell said. “We have the developer building the property for us, we have a non-profit entity which will technically be the owner of the property, but marking, leasing and program operations will all be run by [UC Davis] Student Housing and Dining Services.”
He speculated that this will change several dynamics of the transfer student experience for the better.
“The upside to that approach is, now you have student housing and dining directly involved with these students lives, which we think is a good thing,” Rockwell said. “Especially for transfer students, who are going to be new to UC Davis and new to the city of Davis. It gives them a level of connection into their housing lives, whereas before they were just doing private housing.”
The developers predict that by Fall 2020, around 1,000 beds will be available for rent, with the rest opening up in the following Fall 2021.
Additionally, according to a press release announcing the start of the West Village project, the university secured funding for the expansion through a bond sale — more specifically, a $575 million dollar sale that marks the largest-ever bond issue for an individual student housing project in the United States.
“The successful sale of tax-exempt bonds is an exciting milestone and represents a vote of confidence by the financial markets for this ambitious student housing project,” said Kelly Ratliff, the associate vice chancellor for finance, operations and administration, in the release.
More specifics were also included in the press release, including details about the design.
“The new complex will comprise nine four-story apartment buildings along with indoor and outdoor community space and recreational fields, occupying 34 acres,” the release read. “A 10,000-square-foot community building will house a fitness center, multipurpose room and student support services.”
Rockwell commented briefly regarding the status of Orchard Park, another housing development part of UC Davis’s Long Range Development Plan.
“Orchard park is going to be 1,500 beds, geared for single graduate students and students with families,” he said. “As of right now, we’re on track to get that one open in fall of 2022 or fall of 2023.”
Written by: Claire Dodd — firstname.lastname@example.org