CHANCELL-ING: Celebrating a Student-Housing Milestone

Aerial photo of Orchard Park on-campus housing buildings
Orchard Park features 11 four-story residential buildings, two community centers and approximately 1,500 beds. (UC Davis photo)

One of my goals is for UC Davis to be a good neighbor with the city and surrounding community.

For some years, access to affordable student housing has been a key concern for both the campus community and community leaders. We’ve also heard the call for traffic improvements that would benefit bicyclists and pedestrians near the university.

Blue graphic of Chancellor Gary S. May with text: Gary May Chancell-ing. A town-gown newspaper column.

As many of you know, in 2018 we signed an agreement with the city of Davis and Yolo County to commit to making real progress around these goals.

I’m pleased that UC Davis has met our commitments around housing and traffic improvements. We’ll be celebrating the most recent housing development on Aug. 16, with the grand opening of Orchard Park, which is primarily for graduate students, upper division students and families located on 19 acres just off Russell Blvd. It features 11 four-story residential buildings, two community centers and approximately 1,500 beds.

The $330 million project is part of the most ambitious housing construction program in UC Davis history. This includes the completion of The Green at West Village, which added 3,290 beds, and the openings of Shasta Hall and Yosemite Hall that increased the previous density by adding over 440 beds. Overall, we’ve added about 6,000 bed spaces on campus since 2017.

With the completion of Orchard Park, we’ve reached the milestone outlined in our agreement with the city of Davis and Yolo County to have 15,000 beds by fall of 2023. On top of that, due to our focus on housing, nearly 40% of enrolled students based in Davis now have access to campus housing. 

Affordable pricing

The affordability of Orchard Park is one of its key virtues. The two-bedroom family apartments will lease for $2,320 a month. Based on extrapolations from the university’s annual apartment survey, this is about 31% lower than comparable, newly constructed apartments in Davis. 

Most of the bed leases at Orchard Park are in four-bedroom, two-bath apartments, and renting one of those rooms with a bed will cost $1,040 per month. This is about 34% less than new construction comparisons in Davis.

For undergraduate and graduate students in need, we offer a rent subsidy program that provides monthly rent subsidies of $100 to $300 for residents of Orchard Park, Primero Grove and The Green at West Village. Students who have significant needs beyond financial aid or monthly rent subsidies may visit the Aggie Compass Basic Needs Center for a variety of resources and services. 

More students living on campus

There’s more good news. UC Davis has exceeded its goal to house 100% of the enrollment growth on campus since the campus Long Range Development Plan’s base year of 2016-17. In the last academic year, 3,790 more students were living on campus. That represents nearly 130% of the enrollment growth.

In the meantime, UC Davis met its commitment to improve local traffic as well. We contributed $2.3 million for project improvements along Russell Boulevard and the Russell Boulevard Corridor near Highway 113, along with traffic improvements at the Richards Boulevard/Interstate 80 interchange and County Road 98.

All of this progress speaks to the diligent cooperation between UC Davis, Yolo County and the city of Davis. I am thankful for everyone’s determination, dialogue and vision, particularly as it relates to student housing.

In just a few weeks, students will be back for the new academic year, which begins on Sept. 25. Orchard Park and our other on-campus living communities will come alive as students start moving in. Once again, LeShelle and I, along with other campus leaders, will be on hand to help our undergraduates and their families settle into their campus housing. 

We look forward to more collaboration with the city and county as fall approaches. 

Chancellor Gary S. May’s monthly column is published in The Davis Enterprise and Dateline UC Davis.

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