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Jul. 25, 2011

Graduate Student Housing Project to Lift Downtown Pomona

By Jeffrey Steele, Contributing Writer

A new mixed-use graduate student housing development for Western University of Health Sciences in Pomona, Calif., may do more than offer a place for graduate students to bunk. It also has the potential to help revitalize Pomona’s downtown business district, making it a vibrant destination for visitors.

The 183,000 square-foot housing development adjacent to the campus of WesternU, a private, non-profit graduate school for the health professions, is being designed by Irvine-based KTGY Group, Inc. Architecture and Planning. The project is the result of a public-private partnership between Irvine developer Hanover Pacific LLC and the city of Pomona’s redevelopment agency.

Slated for a 3.3-acre parcel, the four-story development will be designed to LEED Silver specifications and provide beds for 348 graduate students, as well as including 10,000 square feet of space to be used by WesternU.

Fast-growing WesternU has needed additional student housing for years, in part because the transitional nature of the urban area encircling the campus limited housing options, says Robert Y. Kim, executive managing director of Irvine-based Hanover Pacific LLC. As well, the university’s swift growth brought about need for additional academic-oriented space. Exacerbating WesternU’s space challenges was a problem faced by many urban-located California campuses–lack of available land. Hanover Pacific was able to not only secure land via the public-private partnership, but captured a very strategic parcel situated adjacent to the university’s new Health Education Center, Kim says.

The student-housing development occupies a threshold location that will mediate between the downtown district and the WesternU campus, says David Senden, KTGY Group Inc. principal and the project’s lead designer.

“This project is really an extension of and entrance to the WesternU campus,” he says. “Most of the design cues are taken from the collection of university buildings. The development goes far to fill in some of the ‘missing teeth’ of downtown, to try to complete the full tapestry of the city.”

The project’s mix of uses on a college campus is among its distinctive facets, he adds. “Traditionally, housing is housing and academic space is academic space. The two rarely exist closely side-by-side, and even more infrequently are stacked in the same building. This is the university’s version of live/work. Not only will students live in the building, but they might also spend some time here for academic reasons as well. That’s pretty unique.”

All parties lauded the involvement of the Pomona Redevelopment Agency. The agency was an early supporter of the project and closely collaborated with Hanover Pacific to surmount various challenges, Kim says.

The result is a development that will bring 348 new residents to downtown Pomona, helping support existing businesses and investing the city’s downtown district with a new and more pedestrian-friendly ambience.

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