Market-Rate Faculty Complex Debuts in Pricey Redwood City

Redwood City, Calif.--Those in the business of education do not earn sky-high salaries, so availability of market-rate housing is a key concern.

Redwood City, Calif.–Those in the business of education do not earn the sky-high salaries that, say, professional actors and athletes command, so the availability of market-rate housing, particularly in high-price residential markets, is a key concern. But the San Mateo Community College District (SMCCCD) is making the effort to answer some of that demand with the opening of Cañada Vista, a 60-unit faculty and staff apartment community in Redwood City, Calif.

SMCCC, which encompasses Cañada College, College of San Mateo and Skyline College, tapped Thompson | Dorfman Partners L.L.C. affiliate Education Housing Partners and KTGY Group Inc. Architecture and Planning to serve as the design-build team on the project. Situated 25 miles south of San Francisco, Cañada Vista offers high quality residential units with all the amenities of a luxury development, but at rental levels approximately 50 percent below the current market rate for comparable rental housing in the area. The long list of highly desirable offerings within the residential units is augmented by a separate clubhouse and private attached garages; a feature not often found at new properties in similar infill locations.

In addition to a focus on high-end extras, the design-build team placed a great emphasis on design. Cañada Vista’s one- two- and three-bedroom apartments are housed in a two-story structure and a three-story structure, both of which are designed in a Craftsman-inspired style. The complex’s placement on the land and its strategically located windows provide an amenity that would normally add hundreds of dollars to the rent at other properties: panoramic views of Silicon Valley and the San Francisco Bay. “It is important to have high quality architecture,” Bruce Dorfman, principal with Thompson | Dorfman, tells MHN. “Residents appreciate it and by having high quality architecture, it improves entitlement and acceptability in the community; it enhances the community in which project’s are being developed.”

Education Housing Partners and KTGY have teamed up on college faculty housing developments in the past, including SMCCCD’s College Vista apartment property at the College of San Mateo in neighboring San Mateo. That endeavor, completed in late 2005, marked the first workforce housing project to be developed by a community college district in California. Such housing developments serve as both recruitment and retention tools for the schools. They are also economical, as they involve surplus school land, and they’re environmentally friendly. “In San Mateo and Redwood City, both sites were surplus parking lots, so these developments are very green, sustainable solutions for the conversion of impervious pavement,” Dorfman says.

The college housing model that Education Housing Partners and KTGY have developed may very well set off a trend. “Those schools having trouble recruiting and retaining teachers should look at this model,” he notes. “It’s certainly replicable. We’ve studied it for other employers including those with staffs of first responders, police officers and hospital workers in areas with high rents, which prevent the employees from having the quality accommodations they should have. For employers, employees, and the communities, these projects provide a win-win-win situation.”