A Dorm Is Brewing: On-campus Housing Is Heading For SCC

Students who sleep at their desks may soon sleep on campus a little more permanently. Construction of a 6-story on-campus dormitory is set to begin spring 2018 costing approximately $31.1 million.

It was first thought the track and soccer field, at the rear of campus, would best suit the structure. Since, it has been decided to construct the dorm over the existing staff parking lot bordering the PUB building and the Metro bus stop near the main gate of campus.

“There’s a lot of services that are in the PUB that compliment the kinds of things that students and residence halls need,” said Stuart Trippel, senior executive director and CFO of SCC.

Facilities at the PUB, for all students to use, include: the cafeteria, student store, bookstore, game room, mailing services, multicultural center, study lounge, and conference rooms. These spaces circulate many students throughout the day as they hang out between classes or seek meals.

The college expects to house between 220 – 250 students in apartment-style housing that will include personal kitchens and bathrooms.

The dorms will be a mixture of studio, single, and multi bedroom units; some of which may be doubled up with beds in individual bedrooms, cutting costs.

Rent has not been set, but the college expects it to be comparable to other properties in the area, according to Trippel. For students who are eligible for financial aid, the cost of living on campus may be incorporated into their budget.

It has not been confirmed whether the campus will see any ill-effects from the loss of 68 staff parking spots and the introduction of on-campus housing. “As of today we have more (parking) spaces than we are required to have.” Trippel said.

Large off-campus parking lots, such as Greenwood and Sears help SCC meet city requirements, according to SCC’s master development plan.
Construction is expected to be completed by fall 2019, when rooms will be available to students for the first time.

Dorms have been in consideration since 2014, when SCC included a proposal for student housing in the college’s master development plan.

The proposal was approved in 2014 by the board of trustees and city of Shoreline.

The prototype, a 4-story building, was designed to house 300 – 450 students. SCC had to determine if such dorms would be sustainable and where the construction could be done to minimize impact on the campus and environment.

Spectrum Development Solutions (SDS) was hired to conduct a $80,910 feasibility study. This was approved by the board of trustees in October 2015 and completed in June 2016 with the opportunity to include the cost in the overall budget when the project was approved.

“It had a demand analysis, a market analysis, (a) financing analysis, and a cite analysis.” Trippel said.

Results determined things such as location, range of rental rates, and the need to house between 193 – 265 students. The study also suggested, if necessary, placing additional parking on roughly a third of the track and soccer field. SCC’s largest takeaway was that the dorm did not have to consume as much land as expected, adding to the list of possible locations. Now a more efficient design and cost could be established.

The cost of the project will be financed through the nonprofit organization Shoreline Community College Housing Development 1, which was formed with the sole purpose to build housing. Bonds will be sold by the Washington State Housing Finance Commision on behalf of the nonprofit to accumulate funds. SCC will enter a 32-year lease with the nonprofit to pay back the approximate $31.1 million loan and regain ownership of the property. When financing through a nonprofit, the cost will be exempt from some federal income taxes.

By charging students at a sufficient rate, the college can afford to make loan payments, as well as operate and maintain the facilities. Thus, the dorms will sustain themselves economically, as suggested by the feasibility study.

“(It’s) dependent on price,” said Ivan Yang, a SCC student who rents an apartment in Seattle, on whether he would live on campus “If it’s convenient for me.” Students are excited by the idea of having dorms, but enjoy having a life away from campus.

It’s not uncommon for Washington State community colleges to have student housing available on campus or nearby. Edmonds Community College provides three separate furnished residence halls for its students. Each providing different housing options to students.

Dormitories provide an opportunity for students from outside areas to attend otherwise distant schools, especially for international students. SCC’s website states: 14 percent of the approximate 10,000 students attending from 2015 – 2016 were international students. Dorms can provide these students a sense of community and ease the transition process, according to Edmonds’ housing website.

Misaki Nishida, a SCC international student, believes that the addition of dorms can provide a support system and help build new relationships for future international students.

Although dorms benefit some more than others, SCC will provide a selection process that gives equal opportunity for all students who apply to live on campus.

Now entering into the design phase, SCC has been meeting with architects to look at different layouts and features for the dorm.

SCC expects the dorm to meet at least a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) silver standard. LEED has 4 rating levels, of which silver is the second lowest. Ratings are given out based on numerous factors such as: regional impact, health and human experience, innovation, types of materials used, and efficiency of energy, water, and waste once the facility is occupied.

Along with the LEED silver standard, the dorms may incorporate sustainable rain gardens with native plants that require minimal maintenance and enhance the appearance. These are steps that SCC is taking in order to maintain an environmentally friendly campus.

In the coming months, more details about the structure and planning will be available, as the school continues its work on the design and financing for the project.

Providing housing to students is an example of SCC’s desire to make students feel welcome on campus. This will be one of many improvements that SCC has in the works as the pursuit of enhancing student experience continues.

-Justin De La Torre