UCR hosts presentation on future of north campus

On May 3, 2016, UCR Chancellor Kim Wilcox introduced his plan to develop new buildings and businesses on the northern end of campus. This new infrastructure will be located on the 50 acres that make up the north side of campus on the northern end of Linden St. across from the SRC and Aberdeen-Inverness residence hall. The only obstacle in these plans has been that the area was occupied by what was Canyon Crest Family Student Housing, a property that had been in UCR’s possession since 1955. Since then, family housing has been relocated to the nearby Oban apartments, which is now solely for families. The future of the KUCR radio station, whose building is located in the North Campus area, remains unclear.

Students, faculty and developers were invited to the HUB on Tuesday, Oct. 10 to view and give their feedback on presentations by American Campus Communities, CA Student Living and EdR Collegiate Housing, three development companies which are being considered for the project. The event commenced with a few words from Chancellor Wilcox on the goal of this project and the time frame. “Rent of apartments is rising and we can’t think of a future where we don’t have affordable housing for our students,” the Chancellor stated, adding, “This is also the first step in forming a better relationship with the community … We want those that see UCR from the outside to see more than loading docks.” The proposed plans involve building first-year residence and dining halls, upperclassmen apartments, common areas and a parking lot.

Each developer has unique plans they intend to implement if they are chosen for the project. “The idea is that we are trying to make a smaller separate campus and community,” said Yan Krymsky, an architect from CA Student Living, whose proposal involves more open spaces, a band shelter and lecture halls, “That being said, it’s not an island, there would still be a connection to main campus. We want it to be an extension of the existing campus.” This idea of an extension of the main campus and HUB area is shared by American Campus Communities, whose architect Tim Stevens stated that “The campus has been designed with two pedestrian malls (Aberdeen & Canyon Crest) that connect the north side to the core of campus. Our plan is to build with these in mind so that north campus isn’t isolated.”

Open space is one idea that seems to be shared by all the developers, with soccer fields and common areas similar to the HUB being included in all 3 plans. Jack Black, Head of Development for ASG, a collaborator with EdR Collegiate Housing, expressed, “We liked the idea of an urban village, but we’ve also devoted a lot of property to outdoor space. We wanted a community that had fields incorporated into it, not like other communities on campus where fields are enclosed by buildings who are exposed to traffic on the other side.”

None of these plans are final, and development is still in the very early stages. According to Brett Hahnel, the head of development for American Campus Communities, UCR’s transparency on this project is actually very uncommon relative to other campuses. “This doesn’t happen very often,” he explained, “where faculty, students and so many members of the community all have a say and influence in the development of a project like this so early on.”

Final selection of a developer will be made in November, after which construction will start early next year. The planned housing is slated to be ready for incoming students in the Fall quarter of 2020.

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