Columbia Basin College is ready to start building student apartments near its main campus after the Pasco City Council approved a special permit for the project.
The first phase of the development will include 45 units to house a total 125 students, said CBC spokesman Frank Murray. It should be completed by fall 2017.
Ultimately, the entire project will have 375 single, double and quad units.
A ground-breaking ceremony is scheduled for 11 a.m. Sept. 14 near the southeast corner of Argent Road and 20th Avenue, next to the Sun Willows Golf Course.
Since there is no parking on the undeveloped land, the public is asked to park across the street at the CH2M Hill Technology Education Center parking lot.
Classes at CBC do not start until Sept. 19.
The special permit was needed because the three-story, year-round dormitory will be built in a commercial zone on about 1.7 acres.
Council members unanimously agreed Sept. 6 to grant the permit, based on the recommendations of the Pasco Planning Commission and city staff.
Councilman Saul Martinez said he supported the special permit because he believes the development will be a catalyst for the area and bring more revenue to the city.
Mayor Matt Watkins said the Tri-Cities is coming into its own with educational opportunities — first with Washington State University Tri-Cities getting four-year status, and now CBC offering housing for students.
Rustin L. Hall with ALSC Architects of Spokane is handling the project. He is a CBC graduate, Murray said.
Hall will speak at the groundbreaking event, along with CBC President Rich Cummins and Watkins.
The vacant lot used to be owned by Pasco. In June, the City Council approved the sale of just under 5 acres to the college for $796,000.
“We’re really pleased with it,” Murray said. “We actually had a consultant do a survey, which came back with some big numbers about the amount of students who would use that facility. It was very favorable, and that’s what we wanted.”
Thirty-five percent of freshmen and 38 percent of sophomores surveyed said they would prefer to live either in a residence hall or apartment on campus, according to an earlier Herald story.
Student athletes also showed a significant interest in student housing, with 60 percent of the more than 80 surveyed saying they wanted to live close to campus.
Community colleges typically are commuter schools, with many students living at home with their parents. The student dormitories will be a new option for those who want to live independently or move to the area specifically to attend CBC.
State law prohibits community and technical colleges from operating student housing, but CBC found a way around that obstacle by forming a public-private partnership with the developer to build and run the off-site apartments.