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Napa Valley College nears construction of student housing project

Napa Valley College is closing in on the groundbreaking of its on-campus housing project that aims to boost enrollment and which college officials say will make it more affordable.

Pending final state approval, construction of River Trail Village, a housing complex consisting of three four-story buildings, will begin in June, college officials and project planners said at a meeting. a recent public forum.

If the current schedule holds, the student residences will be completed in the fall of 2024, with rental starting a year earlier, according to the college. The project was supposed to start a year ago after being approved in January 2020, but was delayed due to the pandemic, according to college officials.

At an estimated cost of $83.3 million, the on-campus housing project will be funded through a public-private partnership, or PPP, in which a nonprofit organization leases the land where the housing is built and is issuing tax-exempt bonds to fund the project, the Business Journal previously reported.

“It’s a 40-year ground lease, (which) is usually around 34 to 35 years,” said Ann Volz, senior project manager at Scion Group, at the March 24 public forum. Once the bonds are fully repaid, she added, ownership reverts to the college. The Scion Group is a Chicago-based student housing consulting organization.

The on-campus housing complex, which will have more than 400 beds, is led by Oakland-based developer The Martin Group and HPI Architecture, headquartered in Newport Beach.

River Trail Village will be located north of campus at the student entrance on Magnolia Avenue. The site was one of several considered on the college grounds when its master plan was developed in 2015.

Two of the three buildings will be apartment-style residences – one furnished, one unfurnished, and the third will be a dorm. In total, there will be 90 units with 412 beds that can accommodate around 600 students, including relatives, according to college and project officials.

Monthly rental rates are currently expected to range between $917 and $2,310. Utilities and Wi-Fi will be covered, as well as furnishings in serviced apartments, Volz said.

“Community college students are overrepresented in the student housing crisis; yet there are limited housing options at California community colleges,” said Jim Reeves, vice president, business and finance at the two-year community college. “Many of our students want to attend Napa Valley College full-time and work nearby.”

The pandemic has also exacerbated the need for affordable housing in Napa, as an influx of residents from crowded cities has driven rental rates up in the county and other outlying areas, Volz noted.

“There are lots of job opportunities in Napa, but students can’t afford to live here to access job opportunities,” Volz said, referring to market and demand analysis results. carried out by Scion Group in recent years. “What they shared with us is that they could take more classes and have a higher rate of income if (affordable) on-campus housing was available in Napa Valley (College).”

College officials have previously said that a primary motivator for providing on-campus housing is to increase enrollment.

As of Feb. 9, the college reported a 12% drop in enrollment for the spring semester from a year earlier, the Business Journal reported in a Feb. 25 article.

Cheryl Sarfaty covers tourism, hospitality, healthcare and education. She previously worked for a Gannett daily in New Jersey and for NJBIZ, the state’s business newspaper. Cheryl has freelanced for business journals in Sacramento, Silicon Valley, San Francisco and Lehigh Valley, PA. She holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism from California State University, Northridge. Reach her at [email protected] or 707-521-4259.