Development of Killefer Square pushed back


The Killefer housing project, a private housing development, has been delayed and reduced in size due to conflicts between the private developers and Orange’s Old Towne Preservation Association. Photo by Bonnie Cash.

A privately funded student housing project has been delayed and reduced by about 215 beds due to conflicts with the Old Towne Preservation Association and Orange’s historic planner, said Leason Pomeroy, an architect on the project.

“(The project) has been going on for almost five years now because of the need to preserve and rehabilitate the historic buildings on the site,” Pomeroy said.

At a public forum hosted by the developers in April 2017, some residents expressed concern because the site of the construction, which is at the historic Killefer School, is on the National Register of Historic Places. The Killefer School may be one of the only remaining schools in California that was desegregated in the 1940s before it was legally required.

Doug DeCinces, who was one of the real estate developers for the property in 2016, was found guilty of 13 counts of insider trading, according to the Los Angeles Times, after prosecutors alleged that he had received insider information from Board of Trustees Vice Chair Jim Mazzo. Mazzo was on trial in January, but a judge declared a mistrial Feb. 21.

DeCinces told The Panther in 2016 that there had not been any interest in the Killefer building for 12 years.

“Three months after we entered escrow, it became a historic site,” he said.

“What’s taking all that time is the plan coming to a compromise on how much we could actually build on the site, as well as restore the historic building,” Pomeroy said. “(Because of this), the density has been reduced considerably.”

The project, which is geared toward Chapman students, was reduced from 341 beds to 124, Pomeroy said.

“They’ll definitely be for students since they’re designed for students,” he said. “They’re not designed for the normal type of apartment building … They’re going to be set up like dorms where you’ll have more than one person per room.”

Although the rooms are advertised for students, Chapman is unlikely to support the project or offer any financial aid, President Daniele Struppa told The Panther in September 2016.

Private companies are not exempt from taxes, which means that the enterprise would have to generate grants for student residents out of their own pocket, Pomeroy said.

“The thing that’s good about this particular project is that … we’ll be very competitive with the university’s rates, probably lower than their rates,” Pomeroy said.

The average yearly price for a first-year dorm is about $24,800 for singles, $15,700 for doubles, and $14,400 for triples, according to a Residence Life and First Year Experience document.

Despite the delay, the housing is expected to become available sometime next year if the plans are approved, Pomeroy said.

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