The university is purchasing the Katella Grand apartment complex in Anaheim as its newest student residential building for $150 million, Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer Harold Hewitt told The Panther Nov. 6.
The brand-new complex is part of the university’s goal to house all underclassmen on campus. Starting in fall 2019, all freshmen and sophomores will be required to live in on-campus housing, Hewitt said. When the university originally planned to expand in 2015, it included a goal of increasing the enrollment to 12,500 students, Hewitt said.
“The community rose up and pushed back hard against that number. Most of the discussion was ‘You’ve got to house more students if you want to grow at all,’” Hewitt said.
Housing more students is one of the key elements of the university’s new five-year strategic plan, Hewitt said.
“On the basis of all the other housing that we have to offer to students, (Chapman Grand) is a real upgrade – full apartments, great area,” he said. “We think people will prefer to be there and that there will be demand for it.”
Some current Katella Grand residents have concerns about the homeless population in the area surrounding the Anaheim complex, which is less than one mile from the homeless encampment at the Santa Ana River.
“I have noticed homeless people looking through the dumpsters when they were put outside for collection,” said Daniel Osorio, a resident of Katella Grand. “They would leave a mess by throwing trash on the ground while sorting through it all.”
Public Safety will conduct a “thorough security assessment” of Chapman Grand and will make appropriate plans to address any issues the department finds, Chief Randy Burba wrote in an email to The Panther.
“We evaluate a new location by looking at trends and safety measures,” Burba wrote. “The measures are specific to that location and surrounding area.”
Living at Chapman Grand will cost about the same as the Sandhu Residence Center, Hewitt said. A double room will cost $11,504 for the nine-month academic year, while a single will cost $13,210. The university bases the prices off of this academic year’s on-campus housing rates for Sandhu. The current rates for Sandhu are about $4,000 higher than the new Chapman Grand rates.
The Sandhu pricing includes the cost of room and board, but the Chapman Grand apartments will only include the cost of the room because they have full kitchens, Hewitt said.
Chapman will officially purchase the complex by Nov. 20, Hewitt said. The sale is in its final stages, so Hewitt does not expect there to be any problems, he said. There are no plans to renovate the building other than changing the signage.
The complex is a 10- to 20-minute drive from Chapman, or about 3.5 miles away, Hewitt said. Shuttles to campus will be provided, similar to the transportation to and from Panther Village. The shuttles will run 14 hours a day, every half hour, he said.
Hewitt said he recognizes the problems with transportation and parking at Panther Village and that he has been working with Burba to resolve it.
“It’s terrible. It’s really bad, and we know. And we want to fix it,” Hewitt said.
The university plans to add 75 to 100 parking spaces in the property adjacent to Panther Village, Hewitt said, which Chapman purchased in 2016.
Chapman is borrowing $150 million to buy the apartment complex, which adds to the $195 million total debt that the university has accumulated since 2011, Hewitt said.
Hewitt said that Chapman will remain a low financial risk for potential investors, even with the new debt that this month’s housing purchase will incur, according to documents from Moody’s Investor Services provided to The Panther. The university was able to maintain its credit rating even after adding $150 million to its debt, according to the documents.
“I’m impressed because I certainly did not expect to borrow an additional $150 million and keep the same rating,” Hewitt said. “That is a real reflection of how strong Chapman is.”
Amenities at Chapman Grand include a fitness center, rock climbing wall, study rooms and an outdoor pool. Each apartment is equipped with a full kitchen – rather than a partial residence hall kitchen – and a washing machine and dryer, Hewitt said.
Sabrina Santoro, Kate Hoover, Maggie Mayer, Lou Vanhecke and Emma Reith contributed to this report.