Construction on new Villa Park Orchards residence hall to begin late December

Construction on a new 402-bed residence hall at the corner of Cypress Street and Palm Avenue is expected to begin late December. Panther Archives

Construction for the new Villa Park Orchards residence hall, projected to open fall 2019, will begin late December, Kris Olsen, the vice president of campus planning and operations, wrote in an email to The Panther. Olsen did not specify the exact date that construction will start.

The university announced in early November that all underclassmen will be required to live on campus beginning fall 2019. Last semester, about 100 students were unable to secure on-campus housing during the housing selection process because more students signed up for housing than there were available spaces.

All the units in the new hall, which will be built at the site of the historic Villa Park Orchards Packing House, will be suites with living rooms, kitchenettes and multiple bathrooms. The residence hall will also have a large multi-level outdoor courtyard, lounges on all floors and centralized laundry.

“The architecture was carefully crafted to complement its historic setting while maintaining a very contemporary vibe inside,” Olsen wrote. “The interior design team are the same ones who designed the student union at the Argyros Forum.”

The project must be broken into three construction phases because of its size and complexity, Olsen wrote.

The first phase will relocate the two historic sheds that stand in the way of the future residence hall, the second phase will be the construction of the residence hall and the third phase will restore the exterior of the packing plant.

The second phase is set to begin in mid-spring 2018 and phase three in summer 2018.

The approval process for the new residence hall was somewhat lengthy, including a multi-year review of the historic significance of the site and the project’s “environmental impacts.” None were found, Olsen said.

Olsen wrote that there were also meetings and public hearings with various Orange city officials and meetings with board members of the Old Towne Preservation Association to review “ideas and concerns.”

The final step of the approval process will be for the city to issue a building permit, which Olsen anticipates happening early next year.

Sammy Schurba, a sophomore integrated education studies and psychology double major, said that she thinks the new residence hall could “take the edge off” of the housing problem.

“It’s difficult to convince upperclassmen to want to live in campus-facilitated housing because of the copious amount of rules,” Schurba said. “For students whose parents are not yet comfortable with them living off campus, I think the new building that is removed from the freshman dorms would allow students to feel a bit more independent.”

In an email to the Chapman community Nov. 16, Parking and Transportation Services wrote that the Cypress Parking Lot on Cypress Street and Palm Avenue will be closed and used for construction parking.

The Lastinger Parking Structure extension, which adds 344 parking spaces will open fall 2018, and because of this, the residence hall construction project will only impact parking during the spring semester, the email said.

To compensate for the loss of 190 spaces, the email wrote, the top level of the Jim Miller Parking Structure will be available for overflow parking.

The First Christian Church parking lot at 1130 E. Walnut, which is a little more than half a mile from campus, is also leasing 100 parking spaces through August 2018 to people who are willing to exchange their current parking permits for ones at the church.

Olsen wrote that he does not think the new residence hall will affect parking and transportation at all for the university.

“Hopefully, it will improve traffic around the campus by changing commuting students into residential on-campus students,” he wrote.

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