College, private investor, working on housing for Shoreline Community College students

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

The soccer field at Shoreline Community College is the preferred site
for a privately funded, 400-bed student housing project. Photo courtesy SCC.

By Jim Hills

Shoreline Community College and a local investor are moving ahead with plans to bring student housing to campus.

Shoreline resident David X. Lee, and the college have been in discussions over the past year, according to Daryl Campbell, college Vice President for Administrative Services. Campbell presented an update on the project to the college Board of Trustees during a regularly scheduled Feb. 22, 2012 study session.

In September, 2011, Lee and the college signed a memorandum of understanding to look further at the details and viability of the project. Campbell told the trustees that both sides are now excited about moving ahead.
“Assuming the necessary processes and approvals move ahead as planned, we could start building on campus in the next year and a half,” Campbell said.

While specific details of the plan are not yet in place, the concept is to build a 400-bed housing facility that would be open to all students. The facility would likely include a dining facility, conference area, classrooms and other programming areas. Parking on campus during peak usage times is already tight so the proposal includes adding parking to accommodate the live-in students.

Project costs could be in the $20 million range, but no state funds would be used. The project would be privately funded by David Lee and his partners, Campbell said. Lee lives in the area while the son of at least one of the partners attended the college, Campbell said.

The building would be built to the LEED Gold standard. “Mr. Lee is very interested in making this building something that the college and community can be proud of,” Campbell said.

LEED, or Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, was developed by the U.S. Green Building Council. The standards provide independent, third-party verification that a project addresses key areas of human and environmental health, including: sustainable site development, water savings, energy efficiency, materials selection and indoor environmental quality.

The preferred location for the project is the current soccer field and track at the north end of the college property.
“We identified and toured three potential locations,” Campbell said. “The soccer field offers the most flexibility.”

The college men’s and women’s soccer teams do use the field, but the school doesn’t field a track team. “We’ve had previous conversations with the City of Shoreline about using their soccer fields (at Shoreview Park, adjacent to the college),” Campbell said.

Lee’s real estate representative on the project, Marguerite Knutson, told the trustees that they liked what they saw. “The site is level, clean with good drainage,” said Knutson, who is a broker with the Oak Tree office of Windermere Real Estate. “It has low campus impact, low neighborhood impact; great for the students.”

The college had been moving through a Master Development Plan (MDP) process with the city when the housing proposal came from Lee. Campbell said that process was put on hold over the fall and winter, but would now resume and include the housing project. “The city has been great to work with,” Campbell said.
“Campus housing is a terrific move that would allow SCC to attract and retain some of the best students from around the world,” said Dan Eernissee, Economic Development Manager, for the City of Shoreline. “In addition, on-campus housing provides a built-in audience to attend and appreciate the hundreds of performances and exhibits already happening on campus.”

Board Chair Gidget Terpstra asked about the staffing impacts of adding housing to the college.
“There will be impacts on the organization,” Campbell said. “We’ll need an Office of Student Life, which we don’t have now.”

While the housing would be open to all students, the project would also be of significant help in recruiting international students. About 600 students from 34 countries attend Shoreline, a number that has bounced around by about 10 percent over recent years. Currently, Shoreline’s international students live in home-stay arrangements or rent housing.

In 2010, Shoreline Community College President Lee Lambert announced a strategic initiative to grow that number to 1,000 in five years. While he has said that adding college housing isn’t necessarily required for program growth, it is very helpful.

“As a parent, whether you’re sending your child thousands of miles away and across an ocean or across town, you want the most assurances you can have for their safety,” Lambert said. “College housing adds to the peace of mind for those parents who are entrusting their children to us.”

Other community colleges who have added housing have seen their international-student numbers grow in recent years. Edmonds Community College officials added housing three years ago and their numbers have continued to rise as have those at Green River and Seattle Central community colleges.

Besides building the housing, David Lee and his partners are also offering Shoreline a base for student recruitment efforts in China. “They have a beautiful new building in Xian and have offered us space in that building,” Lambert said.

Campbell said that next steps would be mainly around regulatory issues, including conversations with the State Board for Community and Technical Colleges, re-starting the MDP process and first steps toward city approval.


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