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Napa Valley College campus housing proposal

A student housing development proposed for Napa Valley College's main campus along the Napa-Vallejo Highway (Highway 221, at right) could include up to four apartment buildings north of Magnolia Drive and a dormitory building (left) to the south.

Within four years, as many as five buildings could house up to 800 people at Napa Valley College – if the two-year school chooses to build to its maximum capacity.

NVC leaders are further filling out the college’s picture of what form new apartments and dormitories could take under a plan expected to go before college trustees next month. During an open forum Tuesday afternoon, the community college outlined a concept that includes multistory buildings at the south Napa campus’ northeast corner off Highway 221, with a combination of apartment-style and communal dwellings, as many as 414 units in all.

The plan is a joint effort of the college, HPI Architecture of Newport Beach and the Martin Group, a Bay Area development firm that entered a partnership with NVC in August to look into creating on-campus accommodations college officials have said can serve a student body that faces steep home prices and punishing rents.

NVC’s board of trustees is slated to vote on moving forward with housing at its Jan. 23 meeting. A green light from the board would launch more than 3 ½ years of permitting, design and construction, with the goal of opening a housing complex in time for the fall 2023 semester.

The layout shown at the Tuesday forum represents the largest development NVC may build, but the actual complex could be smaller and contain fewer units based on student demand, according to Bob Parker, the school’s assistant superintendent.

“This is what will fit here; this is not what we will necessarily build,” he told an audience of 20 in the college boardroom. (A housing-demand study compiled by the Irvine-based Scion Group, built on a survey of 679 students, suggested the college could fill 312 dorm beds or 167 apartments by capturing half the potential audience for each type of housing.)

NVC President Ron Kraft predicted trustees would likely see three alternatives of different sizes at their January meeting, when the board will decide whether to go forward with the project or pay the Martin Group $50,000 to drop the plan.

Apartments and dorms would flock both sides of Magnolia Drive, the main entryway into the Napa campus from Highway 221, with a quartet of four-story apartment buildings north of the street and a single three-story dorm building to the south.

The apartments would include 384-square-foot studios as well as units with one, two or three bedrooms, the largest containing 978 square feet of living space. Inside the dorm building, individual rooms with communal bathrooms would occupy one end, and suite-like quarters with private baths the other.

No cost estimate was released Tuesday, but Parker said that figure will include expenses beyond construction and design, such as the extra patrol hours required for campus police to stay on duty between 11 p.m. and 5:30 a.m.

A student attending the Tuesday forum took a keen interest in what form campus housing might take in Napa, even though he expected to be long gone by the time its doors open.

“Part of the hesitation to go to school is the commute,” said Jay Berkhe, a second-year NVC student who commutes at least a half-hour in each direction from Vacaville. “I looked at some Napa apartments with a couple of friends and it was $1,800 and up. The students who come after me in the same situation, I’d like for them to have a better opportunity.”

Martin Group chairman David Martin has outlined plans to start design and financial planning in 2020 and break ground in 2021. The firm would turn over management of completed housing complex either to the NVC or to contractor hired by the college.

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You can reach Howard Yune at 707-256-2214 or hyune@napanews.com

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City of Napa/Town of Yountville Reporter

Howard Yune covers the city of Napa and the town of Yountville. He has been a reporter and photographer for the Register since 2011, and previously wrote for the Marysville Appeal-Democrat, Anaheim Bulletin and Coos Bay (Oregon) World.