For college students, living on or near campus is a rite typically associated with four-year colleges and universities. But as demand for college degrees grows, community colleges are getting in on the campus living act.
Wednesday, Columbia Basin College and a team of Tri-City business leaders broke ground on the $7 million first phase of CBC’s first student residence hall, near 20th Avenue and Argent Road in Pasco.
With the project, CBC joins a small but growing movement by U.S. community colleges to create on- or near-campus housing for students.
The American Association of Community Colleges said only a quarter of two-year schools in the U.S. provide on-campus or near-campus housing in a 2015 report, citing 2011-12 data. It estimated 1 percent of two-year college students lived in student housing versus 23 percent of students attending public four-year universities.
CBC pushed for the development after studies in 2007 and 2015 confirmed pent-up demand for campus living by students.
The city of Pasco signed on and agreed to sell the 5-acre site to a private development group, Sigma Financial Group I L.P., for $796,000. The city retained the land closer to 20th Avenue for future commercial development.
The unnamed student housing project is being privately developed with no public money, though CBC will act as the student manager for the hall.
Sigma, which formed a limited liability company to own the project, is financing construction with a loan from the Bank of Eastern Washington, the Pasco branch of the Bank of Eastern Oregon. The loan converts into permanent financing when construction wraps up and rent-paying students move in next fall.
$7 million first phase
45 apartment units
Sigma’s principals are Richmond “Dick” Hoch of Kennewick, David Lippes, a West Richland real estate developer, and John Crook, a West Richland resident and founder of Paragon Corporate Housing. Hoch said the group intends to be a long-term owner for the project.
The first phase consists of a single building with 45 apartment units and 126 beds, which include individual beds and bunk beds.
Students lease beds rather than units. Rents were not disclosed but the project is designed to be affordable to community college students. Each unit has its own bathroom and kitchen but the property has shared laundry facilities, as well as space for social gatherings and studying.
There will be 88 parking spots and, eventually, a new crosswalk connecting it to the main campus.
CBC president Rich Cummins called student housing the college’s future. With only 126 beds to start, it will do little to alter CBC’s commuter-college culture, but in the coming decades, its enrollment is expected to double as demand for degrees grows and CBC adds baccalaureate programs.
In time, he’d like to see student housing projects ring the campus to meet demand for the full college experience.
The residence will be a fairly no-frills affair to keep costs down, but it will boast one upscale amenity: The property backs up to the 10th fairway and pond of Sun Willows Golf Course. The building will be oriented to the golf course.
Two similarly sized buildings will be built in later phases as demand materializes.
CBC will be responsible for leasing the property and handling issues that arise.
Chervenell Construction Co. of Kennewick is the general contractor and ALSC Architects of Spokane is the designer.
For architect Rustin L. Hall of ALSC Architects, creating a student residence at CBC is a unique and special opportunity.
Speaking at the ground-breaking program, Hall said he turned to Columbia Basin College to upgrade his academic performance after eking out a 3.0 grade-point average from Kennewick’s Kamiakin High School. He’d decided he needed to create a future if he wanted to keep his high school sweetheart
His strategy worked. He graduated from CBC in 1981 with a 3.8 GPA, studied architecture at Washington State University and married his sweetheart 30-plus years ago.
CBC gave him the chance to excel, he said, but said it lacked student housing.
“You won’t find many of these things,” he said.
The design incorporates the U.S. Green Building Council’s guidelines for energy and water consumption, but the owners don’t plan to pursue the council’s costly Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design certification.
In other student housing related news, Pullman-based Corporate Housing Development expects to break ground this year on The Vineyard on Campus, a $60 million student apartment complex at WSU Tri-Cities. It will eventually offer 713 beds. The first 165-bed phase will debut at the start of the 2017-18 year.