- $330M project features apartments for students with families
- Helped campus exceed milestone in agreement with city, county
- Students deal with campus in public-private development
The University of California, Davis, today (Aug. 16) celebrated the opening of its new Orchard Park neighborhood with 1,500 beds in apartments.
Part of the university’s most ambitious housing construction program, this $330 million project has helped the campus exceed a 2023 milestone to provide more campus housing in an agreement with the city of Davis and Yolo County. It is also an example of how a public-private partnership can help keep rents affordable.
UC Davis Chancellor Gary S. May said access to affordable student housing was a key concern he heard raised when he came to UC Davis in 2017. “We’ve worked diligently to address this issue,” he added, citing the university’s commitment to build even more housing for students as part of the memorandum of understanding signed five years ago.
“Today marks a milestone, not just for student housing at UC Davis, but another major step in the strong town-gown relationship,” May told about 100 guests attending a brief ceremony at the site.
“The City wants to congratulate UC Davis on the grand opening of Orchard Park,” said city of Davis Vice Mayor Josh Chapman. “This is a great example of our joint collaboration and commitment to meet the housing needs of our students, and exceeds the milestone set in the 2018 MOU to provide 15,000 student beds on campus.”
As part of the event, guests toured the facilities. Students will begin moving in Sept. 5.
On a 19-acre site in the northwest corner of campus, Orchard Park comprises 11 four-story residential buildings and two community centers with exercise, study and meeting spaces. It has 189 two-bedroom apartments for students with families and 1,100 bed leases in studio, two-bedroom and four-bedroom apartments for single students. The neighborhood features green space with at least 40 heritage trees, a children’s play area, and a network of bike and pedestrian paths.
Orchard Park replaces a 200-apartment complex of the same name for students with families that was closed in 2015 after 51 years of service. Numerous graduate students have worked on committees advising on the new Orchard Park.
A family’s sneak peek
Earlier, incoming transfer student Shanice Perry and her family got a sneak peek at their new home including the children’s playground and a staged apartment. “It looks bigger than what I thought it would be,” Perry said as her husband and two children also enjoyed exploring the apartment.
The two-bedroom family apartments are about 725 square feet. Other apartments range in size from 345 square feet for a studio to 1,134 square feet for a four-bedroom, two-bathroom apartment. All feature wood-look tile flooring and include a refrigerator, oven, stove, dishwasher and microwave. Especially important for young families — their apartments include an in-unit washer and dryer.
The family apartments lease for $2,320 a month, or about 31% lower than comparable, newly constructed apartments in Davis, based on extrapolations from the university’s annual apartment survey. Most of the bed leases are in four-bedroom, two-bath apartments, and one of those rooms costs $1,040, or about 34% less than new construction comparisons in the city. Leases include wireless internet service, water, sewer, electricity and garbage services.
To make such a large housing project possible, UC Davis partnered with the nonprofit Collegiate Housing Foundation of Fairhope, Alabama, to fund it through tax-exempt bond sales and with The Michaels Organization of Camden, New Jersey, to leverage the national real estate firm’s expertise in developing affordable housing and student living communities. After 33 years, the university will own the buildings.
Designed to be affordable
Michael Sheehan, associate vice chancellor for housing, dining and divisional operations in Student Affairs, said the campus’s involvement in each stage of the design process resulted in appropriate amenities and lower construction costs. Saving construction costs and time, the residential buildings used Prescient’s steel-stud system manufactured off site.
Orchard Park, which will offset a significant portion of its energy use with a 756-kilowatt solar energy system, is being certified under the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design program.
Even as a public-private partnership, Orchard Park is offering another feature preferred by students: dealing directly with the university. While The Michaels Organization will maintain the buildings, the campus will be responsible for leasing, programming, custodial services and landscaping.
With Orchard Park, UC Davis has now opened more than 6,500 new apartment and residence hall beds since 2017 and exceeded the 2023 target of 15,000 campus beds in the memorandum of understanding.
It is estimated that more than 40% of enrolled students based in Davis now have access to campus housing, and the chancellor said the campus is working toward the goal of providing access for 48%.
About 250 beds are under construction at Aggie Square in Sacramento for fall 2025, and two projects in early planning would add about 1,000 beds to the Segundo area and West Village.
What They Say About Orchard Park
Tak Katsuura, principal, project design director, TCA Architects:
“At the corner of UC Davis, Orchard Park is nestled between heritage trees and marries an innovative architectural structural system with the natural beauty of the site. The buildings use a prefab steel Prescient system for cost and time efficiencies, and the buildings are angled to fit between trees — creating memorable gateways and intersections.”
Raoul Amescua, regional vice president of development, Michaels Student Living:
“At The Michaels Organization, we believe that housing is more than just a place to live; it is the foundation upon which meaningful connections, personal growth and academic achievement thrive. Our commitment to designing, developing and managing student living spaces at UC Davis is driven by the belief that comfortable, safe and supportive housing environments are essential in creating the ideal setting for students to thrive. Orchard Park will provide a high-quality residential experience for UC Davis students, today and for decades to come.”
Joe Coyle, president, Michaels Student Living:
“The Michaels Organization takes pride in incorporating sustainable features into our student living developments. From energy-efficient building designs to eco-friendly practices and materials, we are dedicated to contributing to the university’s broader sustainability goals. Our efforts in sustainability are not only a testament to our responsibility as developers and as parents ourselves, but also to our shared vision of building a greener and more sustainable future for the UC Davis campus and its students.”
Will Givhan, president, Collegiate Housing Foundation:
“Collegiate Housing Foundation is delighted to have assisted UC Davis with financing much needed student housing at Orchard Park on the UC Davis campus. We look forward to being a supportive partner of UC Davis through our ownership of the facility for many years to come.”
Ryan Schlesinger, senior project executive, CBG Building Company:
"CBG Building Company takes great pride in the delivery of Orchard Park. The community’s success is a testament to the collaborative partnership between UC Davis, The Michaels Organization and CBG. We are thankful for the opportunity to contribute to UC Davis’ growth — first with The Green at West Village and now with Orchard Park — and are excited to see it come to life as students and students with families take residence."