Napa Valley College

The discussion of how to bring hundreds of apartments and dormitory beds to Napa Valley College is turning toward the questions of how much housing to build, and where on campus to place it.

An early crack at solving that equation suggests the community college’s on-campus housing could take the form of two clusters next to each other, at the northern tip of NVC’s main campus on the Napa-Vallejo Highway.

Draft documents reviewed last week by the NVC board's Real Property Committee show a four-story apartment complex north of Magnolia Drive and south of Imola Avenue, accompanied by a three-story dorm building on the south side of Magnolia, directly northeast of the performing arts center.

The proposal stems from early discussions between college leaders and the Martin Group, the Bay Area development firm with which it entered a partnership in August – NVC’s deepest inquiry yet into housing a student population pressured by rising rents and unaffordable home prices.

NVC is investigating whether it can break ground in 2021 and have housing ready in time for the 2022-23 academic year, making it the 12th two-year school in California to provide on-site accommodations.

Staff documents indicate NVC is determining how many dorm beds and apartment units it would need to meet the “reasonably available market,” or 50 to 60 percent who those would be eligible to rent such dwellings.

A housing-demand study by the Irvine-based Scion Group indicates the college could fill 312 dorm beds or 167 apartments this fall if it captured half the potential audience for each type of housing, the records state.

Earlier this year, a survey of 679 students conducted by Scion indicated 53 percent of single people and 73 percent of married people would consider on-campus dwellings if they were available, while 41 percent of part-time students said they might pursue a full academic schedule if they could live on campus.

While traditional dorms likely would cater to younger, single NVC students, apartments potentially would have a wider audience including older students, some with families, returning to school to train for career changes. Indeed, assistant superintendent Bob Parker predicted such flexibility will be needed for family-style housing to pay off for the college.

“For housing to be just for NVC faculty and staff, those numbers didn’t pencil out to make it a viable project,” he said.

The discussions of a campus housing cluster’s size and location are taking place in the course of a three-month study, which ends Dec. 2, to ensure the feasibility of the project. NVC trustees would meet later that month or in January to decide whether to commit to a plan with The Martin Group, or walk away at a cost up to $50,000.

Should NVC follow through, financing, planning, permitting and scheduling for the development would take place during 2020, with construction to begin a year later, company founder David Martin has said. The completed housing could be managed either directly by the college or through a contractor.

This story has been modified since the original posting to remove an incorrect attribution to the yardstick by which Napa Valley College will estimate student demand for on-campus housing.

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


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.