John Schultz is the type of student Columbia Basin College made a residence hall for.
A transplant from Arizona, he didn’t know anyone when he moved to Pasco to enroll in a nuclear technology program, and he was grateful for the option.
He represents a wave of students turning Sunhawk Hall into a success story for the school.
When the dorm opened last year, just 25 students signed up for a room. This fall nearly all of the 124 beds will be filled, said Residence Life Director Dan Quock.
“We’re getting pretty close to 90 students in the building,” he said. “It’s been very busy. It’s been a huge change from last year.”
And he still has 150 applications to go through before fall classes begin Sept. 17.
A year of marketing
Being able to spend the year marketing Sunhawk Hall has made a big difference. And the public college has taken over ownership of the project.
College officials dug deep to buy the building for $11.2 million late last year, using a chunk of the college’s $28 million reserve fund.
CBC staff then started marketing it to students and parents, including organizing tours for seniors in high school.
“I didn’t start until May,” Quock said. “We were able to have a full year of tours and experiences and marketing the building. Instead of a few weeks before we opened the building.”
One group they were able to recruit this year was athletes. The college fields soccer, basketball, baseball and volleyball teams. When CBC athletes showed up last year, the residence hall wasn’t ready, so they had to rent apartments.
This year, officials were able to show off the residence hall.
They also organized online media campaigns, like the one that featured Schultz and videos featuring Quock and residence hall adviser Jamie Ninemire.
One of the biggest changes was the cost to students.
Last year, a year-long lease ranged from a high of $950 a month for a one-bed apartment to $535 a month for a bed in a quadruple.
As the college struggled to fill the rooms, the prices were slashed. While they’ve gone up a bit since then, they’re still sitting much lower — from $371 to $656.
While athletes represent a chunk of the new residents, many of the people coming to Sunhawk Hall are more local than Schultz. They’re coming from an hour or two away for programs only available at Columbia Basin College.
A similar story
WSU Tri-Cities’ apartments — The Brelsford Vineyards — are preparing to open its first 45 units on Wednesday.
The apartments range in price from $500 to $890 a month and come in one, two, three or four bedroom models.
Pullman-based developer Corporate Pointe is leasing the land from the university without any plans to sell the apartments to the school.
The company owns 2,000 apartments in the area surrounding WSU’s main campus in Pullman.
So far, 35 people are ready to move into the 160-bed building, said Kerri Jo Staniszewski. They don’t expect to have the entire building ready to open until nearly a month after classes start.
“It’s what we expected,” she said. “People need to be able to see the see the units. ... We suspect the interest will develop.”
Both projects were proposed as having multiple phases, which were dependent on the previous phase’s success.
While Quock is more optimistic about the demand for rooms at CBC he said it’s still too early to know if another building will be built.
Staniszewski said Corporate Pointe plans to start their next phase when they hit 70 percent occupancy.