Construction set to begin on 775-student residence hall replacing Stiles Hall

Jasmany Flores/Staff

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As the campus faces a chronic housing shortage, construction is set to begin Nov. 1 on the Bancroft Residence Hall at the corner of Bancroft Way and Dana Street that will house an estimated 775 students, replacing the current site of Stiles Hall.

The $94 million building — set to open for the fall 2018 semester if there are no delays in construction — will replace Stiles Hall and the parking lot behind it, occupying the block of Dana Street between Bancroft Way and Durant Avenue.

“We all know that student housing is a huge issue and concern,” said campus real estate spokesperson Christine Shaff. “It’s exciting to be able to start construction for new housing that’s right across the street from campus.”

As construction begins, the campus faces a housing shortage, with 750 new students matriculating this year. Several dozen students are living in residence halls at nearby Mills College and Holy Names University this semester because of the unavailability of on-campus housing.

Students living in Bancroft Hall will largely live in double-occupancy rooms, which will cost about the same as living in a double elsewhere on campus, according to Shaff. Living in an on-campus double costs $15,406 this year.

ASUC Senator Chris Yamas said that although the Bancroft Residence Hall would provide much-needed student housing, the campus should also work to expand more affordable housing options such as student co-ops.

“What students pay to live in the residence halls is outrageous. (Bancroft Hall) is not going to be any different from that,” Yamas said.

Standing eight stories tall, the Bancroft Residence Hall will include 7,000 square feet of retail space as well as 5,300 square feet allocated for the organizations currently housed in Stiles Hall. Until then, Stiles Hall — which houses various volunteer programs for students, including the campus food pantry and the Underground Scholars Initiative — has been temporarily moved to the basement of the Martin Luther King Jr. Student Union building.

American Campus Communities, a private company that partners with universities to provide on-campus housing, will own the new building, paying the campus a fee in a long-term leasing agreement.

The agreement, as well as revenue from retail leases on the building’s ground floor, is expected to generate $2 million yearly for the campus, according to a report from former vice chancellor for real estate Bob Lalanne.

“It’s a tried and tested transaction structure,” Gina Cowart, vice president of brand and marcom strategy for American Campus Communities, said of the private partnership.

She added that the company has completed similar projects at Arizona State University, the University of New Mexico and Princeton University.

Like other students living in on-campus housing, Bancroft Hall residents will have meal plans. Cal Dining intends to increase dining hall hours in response to the increased demand but will not build any new dining halls, according to campus spokesperson Adam Ratliff.

Still, ASUC senators were not convinced, citing ever-growing demand for student housing as the campus continues to enroll increasing numbers of new students.

“This is a step in the right direction, the university is acknowledging and acting on increasing the supply of housing for students,” said ASUC Senator Benyamin bin Mohd Yusof. “(But) in the long term, it isn’t going to be enough.”

Contact Simon Greenhill at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter at @simondgreenhill.