Campus: Northridge -- September 20, 2007

CSUN to Break Ground Next Year on New Faculty, Staff Residential Community

Sixty years after it opened as a popular harness racing track and fairgrounds, Devonshire Downs is poised to reclaim its glory days—this time as a planned village-style residential community for Cal State Northridge faculty and staff.

Nearly 160 two-story for-sale town homes on about 15 acres between Lindley and Zelzah Avenues north of Lassen Street are planned for the new Devonshire Downs’ $60 million initial phase, which will break ground on CSUN’s North Campus in fall 2008. It will welcome its first occupants in fall 2009.

The remaining 15 acres at the site will be developed during the next ten to 15 years, in two or three phases smaller both in size and scope than Phase I, ultimately yielding more than 400 units, some of which may be rental dwellings.

"The presence of Devonshire Downs on CSUN’s north campus will greatly enhance our ability to attract and retain the high caliber faculty and staff associated with our university," said CSUN President Jolene Koester. "Not only will we provide them with attainably priced homes, but homes that will be within easy walking distance to classrooms, labs and campus offices."

Currently, CSUN’s only faculty/staff dwellings are 31 rental units located in the College Court Townhomes complex on Plummer Street, west of campus.

An on-campus village environment in which colleagues at work become neighbors at home, Koester said, will strengthen both the sense of community within the university and its connections with the surrounding neighborhoods.

To create that village environment, campus leaders worked with Steinberg Architects and TGP Landscaping on a plan containing intimate internal pedestrian promenades that provide "a neighborhood experience of open, low-walled porches or front yards along the promenades and parkways." Constructed in blocks of three to five attached units ranging from 1300—1950 square feet, each town home will have a private two-car garage with alley access.

Generous, energy-efficient window space, lofty ceilings, high-grade insulation and sound attenuation in common walls will be features available in all the town homes. Some of the available floor plans can be modified to accommodate persons with disabilities.

Three acres of recreational space within Devonshire Downs will be given over to a central village green, pocket parks, groves of trees, a swimming pool, playing courts and a community building.

Pedestrian and bike paths will lead directly from Devonshire Downs to the South Campus via a shady, tree-lined parkway that will terminate at the corner of Lindley Avenue and Lassen Street. From that terminus, village residents will cross the street to catch the CSUN tram, continue walking or resume their bike ride to campus.

One guiding principle was that a resident should be able to walk in the middle of a summer day, shaded and comfortable," said Tom McCarron, executive director and president of The University Corporation and the North Campus-University Park Development Corporation.

Orange groves at the community’s two entrances—at Zelzah and Lindley Avenues—will greet residents and visitors, providing them with a California-style welcome. A leafy atmosphere will prevail throughout the community, a thoughtful enhancement generated by the "green" planting ethic of the project’s Valley-based landscaping firm.

"The community’s landscape design incorporates some of the major themes of the campus master plan, ensuring that the community will be well integrated with the campus, while retaining its distinct residential identity," said Colin Donahue, associate vice president of Facilities Development and Operations.

The entire Devonshire Downs site will be elevated, separating residences from traffic and noise without the sense of "cutting the community off from the world" caused by thick, obtrusive walls, said Rick Evans, associate executive director of The University Corporation.

The goal, said McCarron, is to price the homes at 20—25 percent below prices in the surrounding area, serving buyers whose annual household income falls between $70,000 and $110,000.

A minimal charge for the ground lease—buyers will own their homes, not the ground underneath—will be paid in monthly installments. A monthly fee for ongoing maintenance of common areas and infrastructure also will be assessed, similar to the process at other town home complexes.

Homeowners will be able to sell to other qualified employees of CSUN or its affiliated auxiliaries, under resale price control terms designed to keep Devonshire Downs homes affordable for future generations of CSUN employees.

The housing project was part of the Cal State Northridge campus master plan, developed with full community participation and approved in March 2006 by the CSU Board of Trustees.

Contact: Carmen Ramos Chandler, (818) 677-2130, carmen.chandler@csun.edu


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