December 18, 2018
By Ben van der Meer
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Site work is getting underway in the next few weeks for what will ultimately be more than 3,000 new student beds at University of California Davis.
With closure of bond financing Thursday, the university can move into building an expansion to its West Village student housing complex.
“The objective is to get going as soon as possible,” said Grant Rockwell, UC Davis’s executive director of real estate services. The first 1,000 or so beds in the new student housing are set to come online by the fall 2020 semester, he said, so there’s no time to waste.
University officials will have a formal groundbreaking in early 2019 for West Village’s expansion, a $575 million project. The tax-exempt bonds sold Thursday are fully paying for the project, and are the largest-ever bond issue for a single project in the U.S., according to the university.
In all, the expansion will have 3,300 beds, with the balance becoming available by fall 2021. The project also includes recreational fields and a 10,000-square-foot community building with a fitness center, multipurpose room and student support services. The new apartment units, in nine four-story buildings, will more than double West Village’s existing capacity of 2,261 students.
UC Davis plans to expand enrollment in future years. The University of California’s Board of Regents approved West Village’s expansion in July. The university’s Long Range Development Plan calls for more than 9,000 new beds of student housing.
But Rockwell said expanding West Village is only partly about students to come. “One of our biggest driver isn’t future demand, it’s pent-up demand now,” he said. He and Reed Kawahara, UC Davis’s director of public/private partnerships, noted a housing vacancy rate of .2 percent in Davis, giving current students few options.
Rockwell also pointed out the West Village expansion will have some units designated for transfer students. Those students have an even tougher time finding places to live because they don’t learn whether they’ve been accepted until the spring before they start, by which time most rental units are spoken for.
Clark Builders Group, based in Virginia, is the general contractor for the project. A public-private partnership between UC Davis, nonprofit Collegiate Housing Foundation and University Student Living of New Jersey are the developers.